How to Build a Content Library That Grows Your Business
If you don’t already know the benefits of Content marketing, you may well have landed on the wrong blog! This article presumes you know its importance and many of the statistics that prove the point. It’s cheaper to generate leads than outbound prospecting, it helps you get more website traffic, and it’s easier to build relationships with prospects.
All of these things are true but many brands struggle with producing the constant stream of content required to grow an audience. What if you didn’t need to publish so much content but instead focused on creating content more strategically?
Instead of trying to create content like a publication, you create it like a library. Each piece has more substance and works harder for you. You build a carefully curated collection of resources that people in your niche love and refer to often. In this guide, I’ll make the case for a content library then show you how to build one for your brand.
Why You Shouldn’t Try To Publish As Much As Possible
There are business models that require a massive amount of content to be produced every month. These are called magazines and newspapers.
They create short articles that focus on breadth and volume. That’s part of the reason why Forbes can publish a fortnitely guide and an article on Indian politics on the same day. Anything that will attract clicks is fair game.
It has dozens of staff writers and scores of unpaid contributors that keep the content machine running. Even if you were able to invest a similar amount of resources to produce content, there is no guarantee that it would work for you.
For a company to use content effectively, there needs to be depth, quality, and unique insights. This becomes harder when you’re focused on publishing a set number of articles every month or on meeting arbitrary deadlines set in a content calendar.
When you emphasize deadlines and quotas too much, the focus switches from “we need to make the best content out there” to “we need to bang out 12 articles this month.”
If you look at popular blog Backlinko, it only had about 30 pieces of content published after 3 years but no one complained. Every piece had a high editorial standard and solved the reader’s problem. There was no rush to catch news trends or even to cater to return visitors.
Instead, Backlinko created a resource – a reference library – that would serve people today and ten years from now. Because of this approach, it wasn’t necessary to create a lot of content regularly.
Why Deep Content Is Better
The reality is that most of your website visitors are not members of your audience and may never be. They come to seek answers to their problems and leave. As you fight to please all of them with timely content, you do your real audience members and yourself a disservice.
– Deeper content is nearly always more useful and establishes your authority
– The ones that require more effort like research studies almost always perform better
– When people are satisfied with your content, they are more likely to explore further, subscribe, and buy your products
A content library allows you to switch gears from producing on a schedule to producing quality content that covers a topic in full. Instead of writing on leather jackets today and makeup tomorrow, you delve deep into leather jackets until you’ve covered everything from the top of the funnel to the bottom. After that, you move on to makeup.
In the end, you’re building a library that is optimized for search and will grow more valuable over time. Let’s look at the steps needed to build a useful content library.
Identify The Intent Of Visitors Before Creating Content
Online, people search the web for two reasons – to find information or be entertained. For our purposes, entertainment is not the goal so we’ll focus on the people who are researching.
Within the research group, you can be broadly divided people into two categories. One group contains those who are seeking informational content and aren’t ready to buy. The other group contains those who are seeking transactional content and are ready to buy.
These groups cover all three stages of the content funnel (top, middle, and bottom of the funnel). Let’s look at each one in more detail.
Informational content sits at the top of the content funnel and is where the majority of your traffic will come from. This is also where many content marketers spend their time because it has the most potential to build an audience.
Topics that fall in this category tend to have broader appeal. From this step onward, interest in the different facets of the topic begins to decline. For example, many people may be interested in the specs of the latest Tesla Roadster but fewer will be interested in how to finance it.
Even though most people aren’t going to buy based on informational content alone, it’s still important because it’s the foundation you build upon when producing decision making content. Without the right base of knowledge, they can’t make an informed purchase.
This type of content goes deeper into a specific aspect of the larger topic. For example, you may have a content marketing topic on your website. The informational content could be ‘what is content marketing’ while the decision making content could be ‘best content marketing tools’ or ‘how to choose a content marketing agency.’
Decision-making content doesn’t have to pitch a product or service directly. Case studies are effective at getting people to purchase but it’s not a true sales pitch. Rather, it paints the picture of the potential outcome for your prospects.
Transactional content won’t attract as many visitors but it will have a larger impact on your revenue. In other words, it’s just as important (if not more important) as your informational content.
Keep in mind that not every piece needs to be long and detailed. You’re creating a reference so even a glossary that’s relevant to your audience could be useful.
CoSchedule took this literally and made a marketing dictionary for its audience. Some pieces are part of a larger topic that CoSchedule has created more content around. Together, the content moves people closer to a purchase.
Let’s take a look at the different types or formats of content you can produce for your content library.
Content Types You Can Produce For Your Content Library
This list doesn’t represent all the content types in the world but it’ll help you flesh out your marketing strategy. Focus on the ones you can produce right now and ignore the rest.
This is the most common content format on the web and it’s often the easiest to produce. It can be used as informational or decision-making content but there is a lot of competition here. Some estimates put the number of blog posts published every day at three million. Incorporate visual communication elements like images, custom graphics, infographics, etc. to make your articles unique and enjoyable.
More and more internet traffic is concentrated around consuming video. Entire platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. are dedicated to hosting and distributing video content. It’s more difficult to produce but it can engage audiences better than other formats. Like articles, they can also be used as informational or transactional content.
Podcasts are having a moment. More than 50% of people in the United States are familiar with the content format and millions of people tune in to shows every month. People like Joe Rogan command enviable audiences. This content format is best geared for information.
Ebooks are an old staple of the internet and have been used for lead generation over the last few years. They’re for informational purposes but often serve to build an audience that can lead directly into an opportunity to present decision making content.
White papers are information-dense and though they’re usually for research purposes, they can often lead directly into a sale. They’re not easy reads like an article so the people who interact with them are deeply involved in the niche or topic the white paper covers.
On the surface, webinars are informational. People register to learn something new but a well-designed webinar presentation can turn into a large source of income whether you’re selling clothes or software. Because of this, it occupies the position of being informational and transactional at the same time.
Of course there are more…
After you’re clear on the use case and the types/format of content you’ll be creating for your library, it’s time to identify the best topics. There are many factors to take into consideration like potential search volume and the format that’ll work best, the intent of people who are interacting with it, etc.
Coming Up With Topics For Your Content Library
There are numerous ways to identify potential topics. If you already have a strategy for this then focus on that and use this as a supplement. If not, this should be a good primer for you.
I’ll run through an example with a paid tool called Ahrefs. There are alternative free tools and the steps are similar. You’ll need a few seed keywords or a few of your major competitors to get started.
Using Seed Keywords
- Open Ahrefs and click the menu option labeled Keywords Explorer.Seed keywords, Webinars, White papers, eBooks,
- Type in your seed keyword in the space provided and make sure it’s going to pull results from the country you’re interested in. The page that loads will have information about the search volume, difficulty, click percentage, etc.
- Scroll down the page and copy the websites that are already ranking on the first page for the seed keyword you added. This will come in handy later.
- Look at the left menu and click on ‘search suggestions’ and ‘also rank for’. This will help you find related keywords that can be turned into pieces of content.
- Add any topic that makes sense for you to your list and repeat the process with any other seed keywords you have.
- Open Ahrefs and navigate to the menu item labeled site explorer.
- In the search bar that appears, add in one of the domains that you found in step 3 of the process that used keywords or from the list of competitors you already have.
- On the page that loads, it’ll give you a lot of information about the domain but you want to click on the organic search option
- Scroll down until you see ‘top 5 pages’ and click on the blue button that says ‘view full report
- Here, you’ll see all the pages that are ranking in search engines, the estimated search volume, and the main key term
- Take any terms that make sense to you and add them to your list.
- Dig a bit deeper and figure out the parent topics as well as the topics way at the bottom of the funnel
If you continue this process with multiple competitors and seed keywords, you may never run out of topics for your content library. Let’s move on to how you’ll structure the library for maximum impact.
Organizing Your Content Library
The reverse chronological order of traditional blogs is the worst method of content discovery. Instead of all the related content being grouped, the most recent article is shown then it moves towards the oldest article.
This form of organization is ideal for those who are building an audience and need fresh content. We’re not building that kind of audience so our goal is to help our visitors unearth as much relevant content as possible. A different form of organization is optimal for that.
The structure above is helpful for humans and search engines.
The content library homepage is the gateway to the rest of the content you create and serves as a starting point for exploration. Most people won’t land on this page so it’s important to use a URL structure that’ll allow people to access it easily. For example, curatti.com/library/content-page/ Conversely, you can use navigation breadcrumbs.
In the image above, the KyLeads content library links to individual topic clusters. It has a featured image for each one but that’s not necessary. As long as people can find and interact with the information they’re looking for, it’s adequate.
This is where you organize all the content you create based on the topic research you did in the last section. For example, if you have a website related to fashion, you may have topic pages about winter wear, summer wear, fall wear, etc.
The summer topic page will cover everything related to summer clothing like shoes, shirts, colors, and more. It can even link to guest posts you’ve created, YouTube content, etc.
One thing to keep in mind when you lead people off your website is the return path. Is there an easy way for them to get back to your website? If the answer is no, you may want to embed the media within a page on your website.
In the image above, Dog Food Advisor has a topic page that shares almost every type of dog food imaginable. The interesting thing is that it’s all decision making content. You don’t need to be an audience member to discover and take advantage of the recommendations presented.
Be sure to leave a link back to the library homepage somewhere on the topic page. This will help with SEO and make it easier for your visitors to move around.
Individual Content Pages
This area is the one most people are familiar with so I won’t dive too deep into it here. Just note that these pages don’t necessarily have to live on your website. The only prerequisite is that it was created by your brand and it’s relevant to the topic in which it’s placed.
Once you’ve established the structure, the last step, and the one you’ll spend the most time on, is creating content.
A content library is designed to create the maximum impact in your business even if you don’t have a large audience. The focus shifts from publishing on a schedule to creating quality content that stands the test of time.
This guide has looked at what a content library is, why it’s so important, how to find the right topics, and how to structure your content library. Start at the top and work your way through the steps. Let me know your experiences with content libraries in the comments and don’t forget to share.
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Featured image: New York Library (Andy Capaloff)
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