10 Step Content Marketing Strategy {Plus Free Template}

A deep dive into the content marketing strategy that we use to scale our clients projects. Using this strategy we recently scaled a project from 6000 page views to 168,000 page views per month in only 6 months. 

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Blackship One is a content marketing agency focused on helping space, robotics and hi-tech companies grow. Interested? ⚡

Our In-Depth Content Marketing Strategy. Plus a Free Template.

In this tutorial we’re going to look at the 10 point content marketing strategy that we used here at Blackship.One to scale a recent project to 160,000 organic pages views in only 6 months.

Also, as a side note, we’re currently applying this exact strategy to our content marketing agency, and we’re making our growth numbers open to the public. So click here if you want to get a behind the scenes look at exactly what we’re going to do in order to scale from zero.

So let’s jump in.

1. Identification of your total addressable market

The first thing we do when undertaking any new content marketing campaign, is we identify what the size of our total addressable market is. There are countless keyword research tools out there so just pick your favorite weapon and then start adding your keywords into a spreadsheet. For this you can use notion, airtable or Google Sheets.

For the rest of this tutorial I’ll be referencing the spreadsheet you see in front of you now. Of course, you can just copy exactly what you see on the screen, and punch in the competitor analysis equations by yourself, but if you want to save yourself the head-ache you can simply click here to download this content marketing strategy template for free.

In the first column we’re going to be adding the keywords we want to target. In the second column you’ll add the search volume for each keyword. We have an entire tutorial on the topic of keyword research, so if keyword planning is new to you, make sure you check out that blog post after you’re done reading this article.

2. Keyword competitiveness

Next, we need to add a keyword competitiveness metric. Now, there is no perfect way to approach keyword competitiveness. If you use a tool like Moz, SEMrush or KWFinder they will use their custom equation to weight the competitiveness of any keyword. For example Moz’s keyword difficulty rating ranges between 1-100. While they don’t publish the exact equation, they do give you an overall explanation of how it works. On their website they say:

“Moz’s Difficulty score takes into account the Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA) scores of the results ranking on the first page of Google’s search engine for the given query. It also intelligently modifies for projected click-through-rate (CTR) of a given page (putting more weight on high-ranking, more visible pages and less on low-ranking, less visible pages). The algorithm also accounts for newer pages on powerful domains that may have DA scores but not yet assigned PA values.”

If this doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry. They also include a more friendly definition for non-marketers:

“For anything scoring over 40, pack an overnight bag, and for keywords with a difficulty score over 60, you’d better pack your climbing gear.”

However, if you don’t have any of these content marketing tools right now and you want to come up with your own keyword difficulty score for free, you can install Moz’s free SEO toolbar. This toolbar allows you to see the domain authority (DA), page authority (PA) and the number of links pointing to any page within a website. Notice when I do a Google search with the Moz’s Chrome extension activated, I’m now able to see these new website metrics.

Now, in this spreadsheet that you previously downloaded off our website, you can put in the DA, PA and number of links into the appropriate columns. To make your life easier, we’ve color coded the drop down options so that sites with lower DA, PA and fewer links will show up in green, while domains with higher DA and more backlinks will show up in red. It’s not a perfect keyword difficulty algorithm, but it will work if you don’t want to commit to a paid SEO tool right now.

3. TOFU, MOFU / BOFU identification

Next, we categorize each keyword as a TOFU, MOFU or BOFU keyword. This simply means top of the funnel, middle of the funnel or bottom of the funnel keyword. Bottom of the funnel keywords have high buying intent, while top of the funnel keywords are primarily information searches.

Do not be lured into high volume TUFO keywords. They are often a trap. They are hard to rank for and produce very little in terms of tangible business results.

Middle of the funnel keywords are keywords where someone is looking for a solution to their problem, but they haven’t made a decision yet. For example product comparison or price comparison content is an example of middle of the funnel content.

Let me show you an example of a company that’s doing a great job of strategically targeting MOFU content.

Imagine you were interested in sending cold emails. You might be trying to decide between two different solutions that you’re aware of. So so might search for the company names like this: “Maileshake vs. Woodpecker”.

Now, what you’ll notice is that a smart little company named Cold Email Ninja, found out that there are 224 people who search for this search term each month. So they’ve moved in and hijacked awareness around their competitor’s brands and are now a top result for that search query. This is great MOFU content marketing in action.

Again, we’re not going to get into keyword ideation in this post, because we’ve covered it here. But there are various keyword suggestion tools you can use to find close match keywords, LSI keywords, outlier keywords, alphabeticals, prepositions etc. Again, check out our post on keyword research if you’re interested in diving deeper into that subject.

content marketing strategy template

4. Content prioritization

At this point, you should have a very big list of content that you want to produce. Now we need to start prioritizing production.

So what we do at is we break content down into three primary layers.

We have our root domain which we often optimize for the biggest bottom of the funnel keyword. Next, we have additional product, service or feature pages which are designed as bottom of the funnel sales pages. These pages will almost always show up as a touch point in your sales attribution models within your analytics program. They will also often have the highest page value. For this reason, we double down on this BOFU content early on and we even use a strategy called BOFU multiplication in order to improve our organic position for these search terms in organic search. 

Once we get our BOFU content in place, we need to ensure we properly strengthen those pages to do well in organic search. BOFU content tends not to earn many backlinks naturally,

Therefore, after creating BOFU content, we plan our link magnet content. Link magnet content is much harder to produce than pretty much every other content type. That said, well planned link magnets get linked to 100 times more often than pretty much every other content type.

We produce link magnet content next, because Google has a domain authority bias and a link to any page within your web property will give a boost to all of the pages within your website. Once we have this content produced we can be sure that month after month our website will be linked by authoritative news sites and bloggers. 

Only after we are done producing our link bait content, do we move into the production of MOFU and TOFU content. 

Think of it like a sports match. Your bottom of the funnel pages will score the majority of the goals, but it’s your support pages I(i.e. link bait pages, price comparison pages, definitive guides etc.) which are either directly or indirectly getting the assist.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my analytics software studying attribution models and I see time and time again that general TOFU blog content has a really low page value. With a web property, your BOFU content, even with lower search volumes, will drive the majority of your sales.

This might lead you to believe that you should focus only on BOFU content. However, as I discussed above, BOFU content doesn’t perform well on its own. BOFU content needs to be supported, often by low search volume, low buying intent pages that can funnel a sufficient amount of link equity to the more valuable commercial pages.

So at the end, we have a content map that looks something like this.

Now in terms of how we actually decide on how to prioritize which content to produce first, we actually use a modified design sprint framework which I talk in a lot more detail about in a video over on our homepage, so if you want to learn about the decision making process, head over to our main page to watch the video there.

5. Content brief

During our content sprint process, we will come to a conclusion about what will be produced this month. Once those decisions are made, we focus on creating a content brief for each post that we’ve committed to producing. 

The reason we create a content brief before we pass the content over to a writer, is because writers don’t often think like marketers. And we find the top ranking organic content is not only really high quality, but also really calculated from a structure and design standpoint. There are content marketing AI tools out there like MarketMuse or Clearscope that allow you to exploit content quality gaps within organic search. So we want to give our writer a framework to be able to work within so they can exploit the weaknesses on the field.

This content brief will include everything from a competitor keyword count, to keyword frequency, keyword placement and prioritization, the required outlier or LSI keywords we want included in the post, as well as more granular information like which internal and external pages we want the post linked to.

6. Blog post title variations

Next, we start experimenting with title variations, by modeling our title based on titles for other search queries. We often look outside of our own industry or our client’s industry to do this.

For any post we’ve committed to creating, we create a minimum of 5 title variations. Sometimes we brainstorm up to 10 titles we like. Once we have these 5 – 10 title variations we use content marketing AI tools to help us zero in on title structures that Google seems to be favoring. We can then take the “gut instinct” titles we came up with in the first step, and mash them up with the intelligence we’re being fed from the content marketing AI tool to come up with something unique that will have a strong chance at ranking within organic search. 

During the title research phase, we also look at the historical performance of our previously produced content. We look at our best performing content and try to model new content based on the observations we see within our analytics program. 

For example, we use numbers in many of our posts because we’ve looked in our analytics, and our titles that use numbers drive a considerable amount of traffic.

Depending on the study you’re reading, you’ll often see boosts in traffic from 30% to 200% from using numbers in your title. In our experience, it’s often on the high end of that spectrum.

For example, we launched a new YouTube channel recently and we produced 15 pieces of content for our channel in the first month. 2 out of the 15 videos had numbers in the title and those two videos accounted for over 70% of our YouTube channel growth during the first month (both subscribers and visitors).

7. Writer assignment through kanban

Next, with the post’s brief and title created, we’re ready to pass the content off to a writer. So we schedule and assign the post to a writer in a kanban system. Again, you can use Airtable, Notion or Google Sheets for this. 

At Blackship.One, we generally use Notion because it allows you to keep all of your systems centralized in one platform. You don’t need to use separate software for keyword research, content planning and writer communication. With Notion, everything is within one centralized system. 

With Notion you can also assign a new article to a specific writer who will then be able to see the requirements and complete the assignment to spec.

8. Content distribution.

We have a dedicated tutorial on the topic of content distribution, but essentially, once the content has been planned, written, revised and published, it’s time to start letting the world know about your newest post.

At our content marketing agency, we push content through a pre-defined and systemitized content distribution process. If you’re interested, you can download this content distribution template which includes 50 + channels where you share your content online. By properly distributing your content you’ll begin earning immediate traffic and backlinks.

We used this exact spreadsheet to scale one of the agencies we run to over 5,000 unique visitors and over 10,000 organic page views in our first 30 days. We did this even though the website had ZERO page authority and no backlinks. Content distribution is critical, especially to younger websites that don’t yet have the DA to rank easily.

9. Content performance monitoring systems

After the content is out in the wild, we start tracking the performance of the individual pages in organic search. 

With content marketing, results are often not realized quickly. Therefore, we usually let the content marinate for a few months before we start making performance judgements. This can get a bit complex, because you can’t judge the performance each piece of content equally. 

Three months in, some content will already be in the top of organic search. Of course, this is wonderful news. 

However, content fighting for more competitive search terms might still be climbing the ranks, but might need more time to rank on the first page and therefore we need to hold back our judgement for a later date.

Or, we might find that a seemingly easy to rank for piece of content is underperforming in organic search and might require a content upgrade.

Each piece of content needs to be judged individually. 

We look at each piece of content like an investment that needs to be nourished. We don’t look at every piece of content as equal, and we don’t blindly only focus on new content while ignoring our existing content inventory. We’ll monitor our progress and make improvements along the way.

10. Systems optimization

This leads me to my last point… content marketing system optimization.

I covered this topic in more detail in our post on content marketing planning, but let me summarize. At the end of every month we bring everyone together for a retrospective.

During this debrief we’ll look at what worked and what didn’t. The more months we have to draw insights from, the deeper our knowledge will be.

What we find at Blackship.One is that compounding knowledge leads to compounding growth. During this time, we draw insights and these insights allow us to double down on what’s working. By compounding knowledge month after month, by somewhere between month 6 and 8, we’re normally learning into a really impressive exponential growth curve! 

At this point, you’ll have momentum within your flywheel and you won’t need to fight so hard for your rankings. Traffic will start to come more regularly, more consistently and MUCH easier. 

When you reach this point, the scrappy in-the trenches content production work you did early in the year, will finally start to pay dividends. 

It’s not easy, but if you follow through with a well planned content marketing strategy, you’ll reach the finish line 100% of the time. 

Content marketing strategy conclusion

In a nutshell, that’s our content marketing strategy. I’ve included many links to other resources on our content marketing blog, so be sure to check out those resources as well. 

And remember, if you’re looking for a content marketing agency to help you scale your website, reach out to us today for a free no pressure 30 minute consultation. We’re a friendly and approachable bunch and we’d love the opportunity to see if we’d be a good fit for your organic growth needs. 

Thank you for stopping by today.

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Blackship One is a content marketing agency focused on helping space, robotics and hi-tech companies grow. Interested? ⚡ Learn more here.

We Help You Grow Through Content is a content marketing agency that helps hi-tech brands grow through the use of our organic growth playbook. We help with content planning, strategy, writing, publishing and SEO optimization. If you want to learn more about how we scaled a recent project to over 160,000 organic page views / month in 6 months, watch the video to the right. 🤝