When you go from writing content on instinct to planning content with a strategy, a bunch of questions will pop up to create resistance to the new approach.
Inevitably you’ll want to know:
- what size of a topic to tackle
- what length your content should be
- what depth is sufficient to satisfy it
At this point, it can get really complex or be kept really simple. I think you start simple, and you layer in complexity as needed, one data point at a time.
The simple way
I say, as long as you’re satisfying the purpose of the piece, be confident about the length, depth, and size of topic that feels right. This will prevent resistance and doubt from getting you over that hump. You’re the subject matter expert, so you decide.
The complex way
You can start layering in some productive complexity to your existing approach in a few ways:
prioritize topics and subtopics based on the size of the demand-competition gap
In keyword research this is simply:
- paying attention to search volume on clusters of phrases around topics relevant to your subject matter expertise
- not getting in the ring where you can’t win, and starting where the fruit hangs lowest
Gauging competitiveness for us is a bit algorithmic, but for you, some easily accessible data is better than no data. This could be actually searching Google (logged out/private browsing/vpn if possible) and looking at search results pages. You can ask yourself, at a glance, who’s ranking consistently for your topics? Do I beat them on other phrases already? Can I?
Don’t get intimidated by big name sites. It’s the established authorities on your topic that are going to be your biggest threat.
You can beat a Forbes article on an adjacent topic more easily than a direct topic competitor with some subject matter expertise and a body of related content.
structure your article/post/guide to satisfy the array of intent of users
Let’s say you want to rank for a topic like “exotic fabrics.” A quick search in a keyword tool shows a few thousand searches for related terms with branches of intent from fat head to long tail like:
- exotic patterns (boutique, bohemian, animal, bird, tribal, geometric)
- imported fabrics and fabrics by region or country (African, Turkey, Japanese, India)
- fabrics by type or material (silk, Khadi, Ankara, vinyl, metal)
- fabrics by use (curtains, table cloths, upholstery)
- commercial intent (buy/wholesale, near me, etc.,)
Simply by eyeballing and categorizing intent we already intuitively know what users care about.
The above five top level topical intent buckets can provide a structure for a guide, or a bundle of five posts pointing to a product category page that satisfies commercial intent (called hub and spoke), or at the very least, a checklist for your post (did I miss anything important about African patterns?)
The point here isn’t that you’re becoming a content robot, writing for crawlers, gaming the system, or tricking your users into reading SEO content. The point is that you’re incorporating more depth of understanding about what your users care about into your content regimen, little by little, in a way you’re comfortable with, that contributes to your bottom line.
Pay attention to the data, and trust that applying your expertise with an awareness of that data will guide your content enough, without worrying about post length, keyword density, LSI keywords, jamming your h tags with the right partial match phrases, or other tactical distractions.