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What is Content Strategy? An Ultimate Guide (2024)

Good content strategy drives growth by aligning content with business objectives.

Even a simple strategy can spark long-term revenue and sales growth.

Your strategy will explain how you’ll use content to solve your prospect’s problems and meet business goals.

Let’s start laying the groundwork for content that delights audiences and accelerates conversions and growth.

We’ll begin with a definition.

What is Content Strategy?

A content strategy is a plan for creating, measuring, and maintaining content that serves a target audience’s needs and achieves business goals.

The scope of a content strategy includes:

  • Who will plan, create, review, and maintain the content?
  • A playbook that spells out content types, channels, formats, and style to be used.
  • How will success be measured? Who will set targets for goals?

Writing produces clarity: Your content strategy should be documented. Research shows that organizations with documented content strategies perform better than those without.

Why Create a Content Strategy?

A content strategy is a road map with a destination. Want to arrive at your planned destination? Don’t forget the road map!

The alternative to a content strategy is an ad hoc approach, which defies measurement and fails to achieve objectives.

How to Get Started

The best content strategies display clear alignment between business goals, the tactics for achieving them, KPIs, and targets.

So, the foundational requirement for any successful content strategy is clear business objectives.

1. Pick Your Business Objectives

Start by choosing your most important business objectives. Following the advice of marketing visionary Avinash Kaushik, pick 3-5.

Limiting the objectives will help you focus and get traction.

As the authors of 4DX note, this narrow focus ” . . . will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals.”

Here are some sample objectives.

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate leads
  • Grow sales
  • Increase customer retention
  • Increase customer satisfaction

2. Clarify Your Audience

Next, chart out your target audience. This is going to help you create relevant content that appeals to them.

First, you’ll identify your LAQA or Largest Addressable Qualified Audience. This is the segment at the top of your sales funnel.

And we’ll use a variation on the sales funnel concept. Instead of the old Awareness, Consideration, and Action stages, we’ll use See, Think, Do.

The difference is subtle: it shifts the focus to what you want the customer experience to be like, as they:

  • See your brand for the first time
  • Think about your products or services
  • Do (transact with you)

Here’s a sample table, which you can copy. You’ll fill in the far-right column with your audience information.

Example: A Nutrition Education Business

In our example, we charted a table for a fictional business that sells a nutrition app and online courses for optimizing nutrition.

The app tracks meals and displays how close a user is to reaching their daily targets for protein and fiber intake. And it tracks goals for vegetable and fruit consumption.

App users can also sign up for online courses targeting specific nutrition goals.

Audience intent clusterWho belongs in the cluster?Example
SeeLargest addressable qualified audience (LAQA)Health-conscious people.
ThinkLAQA with mild commercial intentHealth-conscious people who are considering how to optimize their nutrition.
DoLAQA that’s ready to transactHealth-conscious people who are considering how to optimize their nutrition, and are willing to pay for a solution to reach their goals.

As you’ll learn later in this article, each audience cluster (or ‘stage’) has different content needs. By meeting those needs, you’ll maximize your outcomes.

Now, gather your team for an intriguing brainstorming session.

3. Sketch the Big Picture

The next step is to work through these 3 questions as they apply to your website.

  1. How are we going to acquire traffic?
  2. What do we want visitors to do once they arrive?
  3. What business outcomes will #1 and #2 achieve?

These questions are derived from Avinash Kaushik’s Acquisition, Behavior, and Outcomes model.

Remember, you have to do something to get traffic. You can go for free traffic (from SEO and social media), paid traffic (from advertising), or a combination.

Keep your sketch simple. Here’s a sample result from this type of brainstorm, for a business with 3 topline objectives:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate leads
  • Grow sales
#1) How are we going to acquire traffic?#2) What do we want visitors to do once they arrive?What business outcomes will #1 and #2 achieve?
Publish enticing content “snacks” on our Facebook Page.

Run Facebook Ads to grow our Facebook community, raise brand awareness, and attract them to our website.
Like our Page or enter a contest.

Download a free ebook.

Sign up for our email newsletter.
Increase brand awareness.

Generate leads

Grow sales
Publish SEO-optimized content:

Introductory content that answers common questions related to our niche.

“How-to” content that shows prospects how to solve a problem with our product.

Comparison reviews to help prospects compare our product with competitors.

Sign up for our email newsletter or a free giveaway.

Sign up for a free trial or purchase our product.

Increase brand awareness Generate leads

Grow sales

Now, you’ve clarified your business objectives and audience and have a big-picture sketch of your strategy.

It’s time to pull these together into a common-sense plan.

Planning Content Creation

In this section, we’ll match content types to marketing channels.

We need to answer the question, “What kind of content is effective for reaching prospects in the See stage? Or the Think or Do stages?”

And which marketing types (channels) are most effective for those stages?

Here we’ll rely on Kaushik’s insights, informed by his extensive experience consulting for Fortune 500 brands. We’ll also share our own approach.

Content Types

Let’s start with our playbook: the content types we use to achieve consistent growth.

General Background and Content Snacks

Effective channels: SEO, Facebook Ads, YouTube

To increase brand awareness, we create articles that answer searchers’ common questions about our niche: SEO.

Examples are:

Increasing brand awareness: This content is a good fit for prospects in the See stage. They find us because they’re searching for answers to those questions, not because they know our brand. When they arrive on our site, they become aware of our brand for the first time.

Newsfeed-based Social Media: For those who want to wrest the full potential of social media, we recommend creating a Facebook Page and then using Facebook Ads to attract your audience. Publish compelling content snacks: appealing photos, short anecdotes, or fun videos.

Remember: Most people on Facebook are there to socialize. They respond well to business content that’s brief, refreshing, and inviting.

Product Comparisons and How-Tos

Effective channels: SEO, email marketing, YouTube

Next, we create “how-to” content on popular SEO topics to attract our Think prospects. These “how-tos” are step-by-step tutorials that include relevant mentions of our product.

This way, our audience learns how our product helps solve SEO problems.

Here are examples of our how-tos:

To develop “how-to” content ideas, jot down problems related to your niche that your target audience is trying to solve.

Next, realize that some in your audience may already have buying intent. They’re at the stage of comparing products. So, help them do that. Create content that shows how your brand compares with competing solutions.

Follow our simple tips for creating “versus” comparison articles.

Check out these examples of “versus” articles.

Look at how 2 of these articles show up in search results. WPForms boldly declares, “WPForms is the winner.”

gravity forms vs wpforms search snippet

And signNow says it “provides users with more premium features for less . . .”

signnow vs docusign search snippet

The trick to writing versus articles that rank is to be honest and objective. Show you have hands-on experience with the competitors’ products, and create a truly helpful comparison.

Being objective includes saying positive things about the competition’s praiseworthy features.

Matching Content Types to Channels

Not every marketing channel works well to reach prospects in all these stages. This is a key insight that Avinash Kaushik provided with his See – Think – Do framework.

For instance, while Facebook is great for increasing brand awareness, people who are busy socializing can be turned off by “Buy now!” messages.

If you want to maximize results and return-on-investment (ROI), match your content types to channels suitable for reaching the given audience stage.

We’ll make this easy by putting it into a chart.

Funnel stageAwareness
Effective content types– Content snacks (for social media)
– “What is” (definitions)
– Introductory content
– General how-tos
– Product comparisons
– Product reviews
– Comparison tables
– How-tos
– Testimonials
– Product comparisons
– Product reviews
– How-tos
– Purchasing details
– Sales/discount info
Effective channels to use– SEO
– Newsfeed-based social media
– Facebook Ads
– Display Ads
– YouTube
– Email
– Display Ads
– Retargeting Ads
– PPC Ads
– Email
– Display Ads
– Retargeting Ads
– PPC Ads
– Local Services Ads

Keyword Secrets

Next, we need to talk about keywords. Each piece of content you create should be based on a single topic or keyword.

Here’s the thing: some keywords are impossible to rank for. Others are easy.

Pick easy keywords: The secret that all marketers know is you can pick keywords that are easy to rank for.

Find out how to do this in Keyword Difficulty in SEO: What It is and How to Use It

semrush easy keyword filter
Above: Semrush’s filter for finding “Easy” keywords.

Target buyers: The other secret is that you can pick keywords that signal buying intent.

Keyword research tools like Semrush label all keywords with one of four intents: Informational, Navigational, Commercial, or Transactional.

As you probably guessed, Commercial and Transactional keywords signal buying intent.

And, yes, you can pick “buying intent” keywords that are also easy to rank for.

Learn more in Buyer Intent Keywords: Boost Sales With This SEO Strategy.

Let’s add a new row to our table for keyword intent. And we’ll add one for “marketer slang,” in case you come across those terms.

Funnel stageAwareness
Marketer slangTOFU
Keyword intentInformationalCommercialTransactional
Content types– Content snacks (for social media)
– “What is” (definitions)
– Introductory content
– General how-tos
– Product comparisons
– Product reviews
– Comparison tables
– How-tos
– Testimonials
– Product comparisons
– Product reviews
– How-tos
– Purchasing details
– Sales/discount info
Effective channels to use– SEO
– Newsfeed-based social media
– Facebook Ads
– Display Ads
– YouTube
– Email
– Display Ads
– Retargeting Ads
– PPC Ads
– Email
– Display Ads
– Retargeting Ads
– PPC Ads
– Local Services Ads

Our strategy is to create “MOFU” and “BOFU” content because it attracts prospects with buying intent. This allows us to earn revenue as we create content.

We create some informational content, but MOFU and BOFU content delivers better ROI.

And before publishing, we optimize each piece of content. This takes around 10-15 minutes.

Optimization for Search Engines

On-page SEO is a vital pre-publication step for your content. This type of optimization helps Google understand your content better so it can be ranked for relevant keywords.

The result is that your target audience can easily find your business, your products, and your content.

The easiest way to optimize content for SEO is to use a tool. For WordPress users, we recommend All in One SEO (AIOSEO).

aioseo homepage

The plugin will automatically analyze your content and then show you how to optimize it.

Because no prior SEO experience is needed, this plugin is a good fit for teams with varying levels of SEO experience. And while it’s beginner-friendly, it’s also used by agencies.

aioseo example of author seo feature
Above: AIOSEO’s Author SEO feature creates clickable bylines and linked bios. Optional: add a second byline for a reviewer or fact-checker.

Search engine optimization of your site and individual pages will include:

  • Build authority: Use the Author SEO feature to signal your experience, expertise, and trustworthiness.
  • On-page SEO checklist: For each page, AIOSEO displays an SEO score. Act on the simple recommendations and watch your score go up.
  • Optimize your homepage: Get instant recommendations on improving the SEO of your homepage, so your business can be found in search results.
  • Boost rankings with internal links: Increasing internal links to your most important pages can boost their rankings significantly. All in One SEO’s Link Assistant speeds up internal linking.
  • Look good on social media: Control precisely how your content displays on social platforms.
  • Boost traffic with a video sitemap: This is available in the Pro version of AIOSEO and it’s automatically generated. Learn more about WordPress video SEO.
  • Get rich snippets: Click some buttons to add unique code that helps Google understand and rank your content. This code makes your content eligible to be displayed as a rich snippet in search results. Research shows that rich snippets get more click-throughs.
rich snippet example
Above: These eye-catching visual displays look like ads but are not. They’re rich snippets.

All in One SEO is an established plugin with thousands of 5-star reviews on Currently, over 3 million site owners are using the plugin.


After content’s been created, optimized, and launched, there’s a maintenance aspect too.

Reasons for maintenance include:

  • Content decay: It’s natural for content to decay (lose ranking) over time. Improving content slipping in rankings can be done on a set schedule.
  • Content updates: Changes to your products or policies may necessitate updating existing content. Additionally, headlines that mention a year (like 10 Google Ranking Factors to Act On in 2024) will begin declining in ranking as soon as New Year’s Day arrives. Plan to update those mentions every January.
  • Underperforming content: Content that never ranks can be reviewed for action. Combining several related underperformers into 1 new article can improve ranking. Content that becomes obsolete may need to be deleted. Consider the role of redirects when deleting pages. (All in One SEO makes redirects easy for beginners to do.)


There are 3 steps we recommend to measure the success of your content efforts.

First, remember the 3-5 business objectives you chose? You’ll need to track and measure those outcomes.

Business Objectives

Create a table listing each business objective, the digital strategies you’ll use to achieve it, your KPIs, and targets. We’ve borrowed this concept from Avinash Kaushik’s Digital Measurement and Marketing Model (DMMM).

Boost alignment by adopting EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System. We’ve found EOS to be very helpful, particularly the Level 10 template for meetings. Each weekly L10 meeting includes a scorecard featuring top-line objectives.

Focusing on what matters most each week keeps goals in focus and fosters accountability.

Website Results

Then, sign up for a free Google Analytics account. You can use it to track conversion rates and discover which web pages, ad campaigns, or social media pages are driving results.

When you know what’s working, you can do more of it. And you can pull resources from underperforming activities.

Keyword Rankings

Lastly, you can see which keywords you’re ranking for without leaving WordPress. This feature, called Search Statistics, comes with the Elite version of All in One SEO.

Search Statistics will also tell you if your pages are slipping in rankings. That way, you can add some improvements to the article.

In addition, you can use this feature to detect the impact of Google algorithm updates on your results.

aioseo seo statistics

As you can see, there’s an overlap between measurement and content updates or maintenance.

Content Strategy vs. Content Marketing Strategy

Often, content strategy and content marketing strategy are used interchangeably. Traditionally, content strategy has dealt with determining staff roles, governance, liability issues, and processes, among other things.

For small businesses with few employees, detailed discussions of roles and governance may seem like overkill.

Here are some areas all businesses can benefit from covering.

  • Liability: Using a single image you don’t have a required license for can lead to copyright fines as great as $150k per instance. Create written guidance for staff on image use.
  • Access control: Most website platforms like WordPress offer user roles with varying levels of administrative access. Avoid liability issues and errors by only providing staff with the necessary access level.
  • Review and approval: Create an efficient approval workflow so content is reviewed and signed off on before publishing, ensuring consistent quality and messaging.

Businesses may also want to:

  • Audit existing content: This is a process of reviewing your current content and how it’s organized, in order to to identify areas for improvement.
  • Develop an editorial calendar: Plotting a schedule when different content assets will be produced and published can keep the team aligned and on track.

AI-Generated Content

You’ve probably heard a lot about AI-generated content. There’s been such fevered coverage of this trend, that it can be hard to sort out solid use cases from over-optimistic claims.

For an example of the latter, see this AI content experiment which soared and then nose-dived into oblivion.

Here are 2 of our favorite uses of AI-generated content.

  1. Localized video: Thanks to the advent of voice cloning (provided by 11Labs), tools like enable you to translate your video content into foreign languages, while the speaker’s tone of voice is maintained. Lip syncing is not at the level where this technology can currently replace, say, film dubbing, but it’s surprisingly effective.

    Good use cases: Translate product and how-to tutorial videos.
  2. Programmatic SEO (pSEO): This tactic enables you to create hundreds or thousands of web pages using templates, variables, and AI-generated content. We think it’s best to restrict this tactic to repetitive forms of content and to edit the content.

    Good use cases: hotel and real estate listings, corporate earnings reports, and online glossaries.

Content Strategy Bonus Tips

  • Lead magnets: Every business needs to generate leads, and your website is a perfect place to do this. WordPress users will like and OptinMonster’s Exit-Intent popups (these appear when people are leaving a site).
  • Calls-to-Action (CTAs): For any CTAs on a web page, make sure they’re placed near the top. Many users don’t bother scrolling down pages.
  • Content gap analysis: Learn how to do a content gap analysis (also called a keyword gap analysis) to discover which keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t.
  • Topic clusters: Learn how to create topic clusters to establish authority and accelerate rankings.

Q&A on Content Strategies

Are buyer personas the same thing as buyer types?

No, buyer personas are not the same thing as buyer types (also called buyer modalities), although types can inform the creation of personas.

Buyer personas are detailed representations of your target audience based on research. This research may provide insight into common values, hobbies, preferences, and online behaviors shared by identifiable segments of your audience.

The persona itself is depicted as a fictionalized character with data-based traits. Condensing research into a character is said to help creators produce more relevant content.

Buyer types can help you identify what type of information people need before they’ll make a purchasing decision. Using this information can help you boost conversions by filling content gaps on your website and social media platforms.

Are personas important for content strategies?

As with many marketing questions, the answer is “It depends.” Plenty of marketers advocate for the creation and use of personas. At the same time, we know of dozens of successful online companies that never use personas.

Personas often use demographics. That works fine for businesses whose products or services were created for a specific demographic (e.g., transportation services for older people). But if your product wasn’t designed to serve a particular demographic, using personas can generate unwarranted assumptions about your best audience.

Many marketing breakthroughs have been achieved by targeting audiences based on shared interests rather than demographics. See this YouTube study, published by Think with Google, for more on affinity audiences.

What is account-based marketing and how does it relate to B2B content strategy?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that focuses marketing and sales efforts on targeted individual accounts/companies that offer the greatest potential value.

In terms of B2B content strategy, ABM requires creating customized content that speaks directly to the needs, interests, and goals of key decision makers within those high-value accounts. This could include:

  • Personalized emails with content tailored to business challenges the target account is facing
  • Custom ebooks, whitepapers, case studies for the target accounts
  • Account-specific landing pages with messaging relevant to that company

An ABM approach ensures alignment of sales and marketing through coordinated content that engages decision makers at those tier-1 and tier-2 accounts.

Should user-generated content be part of my content strategy?

Google rewards high-quality content, no matter how it’s created. However, user-generated content tends to be mediocre. And publishing it on your site can harm your SEO. That’s because Google doesn’t differentiate between UGC and content you’ve created.

And with the release of the Helpful Content System, a large amount of poor-quality UGC on a website can diminish your rankings.

Caveat: Anything can be done well or poorly, and that includes UGC. One of best examples of excellent UGC is the TABB Forum, which presents in-depth content on highly specialized financial subjects.

It’s worth noting that TABB Forum functions like a professional publication and edits user-generated content.

Another nod to user-generated content comes from Google’s new elevation of select forum threads, originating from Reddit or sometimes Quora, into page #1 search results for select terms.

What is behavior-based marketing and what role does it play in content strategy?

Behavior-based marketing uses customer data, even anonymous browsing behavior, to match content to individual preferences. This can include alterations of web page layouts or greeting visitors by their first name, without any required login.

While the breadth and depth of this type of personalization isn’t new, its capabilities may be new to many site owners.

This approach can drive exponential increases in conversion rates. To get a sense of what’s possible, explore Ortto and Klaviyo for starters.

The Future of Content Strategy

While new developments in AI, distribution, and personalization will transform content strategies, the core mission will remain the same: to help prospects solve problems and obtain opportunities.

To the degree that your content helps them do that, you’ll succeed, both on Google and on other platforms like YouTube.

We hope that as you create and refine your content strategy you’ll return to this blog for additional insights in content that converts.

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author avatar
Sherrie Gossett Content Writer
Sherrie is an SEO analyst based in New Hampshire in the United States. When she’s not busy researching, implementing, and writing about new SEO developments, she can be found hiking and playing guitar.

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