Content Marketing

17 Actionable Content Marketing Tips

Si Quan Ong
Content marketer @ Ahrefs. I've been in digital marketing for the past 6 years and have spoken at some of the industry’s largest conferences in Asia (TIECon and Digital Marketing Skill Share.) I also summarise books on my personal blog.
    Struggling with your content marketing?

    Don’t worry. Below is a list of 17 tips that’ll improve your content marketing and help you get more visitors, leads, and sales. 

    If you rank for topics that people are searching for, you can get consistent search traffic. 

    Here’s how to find these topics: 

    1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
    2. Enter a topic relevant to your industry 
    3. Go to the Matching terms report 
    Finding topics with search traffic potential, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

    You’ll see 3+ million potential topics you could target. Look through the list and pick out those that are relevant to your website. 

    If you create content for the wrong people, visitors won’t translate into customers or clients. 

    For example, if a conversion rate optimization (CRO) agency writes about CRO, they might attract fellow professionals rather than genuine leads. That’s why it’s important to clearly define your audience. 

    If you already know who you’re targeting, make sure to get it down in writing and share it with your entire team. Otherwise, use the template below to figure it out for your business. 

    If you know which of your competitors’ articles get the most search traffic, you could replicate their success. 

    Here’s how to find their best topics: 

    1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
    2. Enter a competitor’s domain 
    3. Go to the Top pages report 
    Articles that get the most search traffic on Beardbrand, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

    You’ll see their top pages by search traffic and the keyword that sends each page the most traffic. 

    For example, we can see that Beardbrand’s article on beard styles gets an estimated 51K monthly search visits. The keyword sending it the most traffic is “beard styles.” 

    If we owned a competing ecommerce store, we could tackle this topic, too. 

    Topics have high “business value” if you can naturally mention your product or service in the content. You should prioritize these as they’re most likely to generate sales or leads. 

    For example, here’s how we score topics at Ahrefs: 

    How to score business potential for topics

    We try to prioritize topics that score 2 and above. 

    Pairing business value with search traffic potential keeps us focused on creating content that actually drives growth.

    Search intent is the why behind a search query. If you want to rank high on Google, you’ll need to match it. 

    Since Google’s goal is to provide users with the most relevant search results, we can look at the search engine results pages (SERPs) to figure out search intent. 

    For example, if we Google “best headphones”, here’s what we see: 

    Search results for the query, "best headphones"

    From the search results, it’s clear that people are looking for an up-to-date list of the best headphones on the market. If you’re targeting this topic, it’s likely you’ll have to create something similar.

    A content calendar is a system for organizing, managing, and scheduling upcoming content. It keeps track of all publishing efforts and lists information such as: 

    • Topic
    • Author
    • Contributors
    • Status
    • Due date
    Ahrefs' content calendar on Basecamp

    This keeps everyone aligned and is the reason why we’ve been able to publish at least two blog posts a week for the past few years. 

    People often share images that simplify complex topics. This gets your content in front of more people. 

    For example, our SEO checklist illustration got 1,000+ likes and 300+ reposts: 

    We have in-house illustrators who create our images. But you don’t have to break the bank to design one. The blog WaitButWhy uses hand-drawn cartoons and stick figures and is still popular. 

    A WaitButWhy hand-drawn illustration

    This image got 8,000+ likes, 1,700 reports, and reached 1.6 million views on Twitter. 

    Tools like Canva also make it easy to create shareable images. 

    If you don’t put your content in front of people who care, your newly published content will be invisible. 

    To promote our content, we: 

    • Include the best posts of the week in our newsletter 
    • Encourage each author to share what they’ve created on their socials 
    • Reach out to people we mention in our content 
    • Run ads on platforms like Facebook and Twitter 

    You’ll have to do at least this much to get your content out. If you have a new site, even more. 

    Content repurposing is where you turn existing content into another format. 

    For example, we turned our guide to influencer marketing into a video. I also turned my blog post on the Skyscraper Technique into a X (Twitter) thread.

    That way, the content you’ve created doesn’t end after hitting ‘publish.’ It goes the extra mile to reach more people without you having to create new content from scratch. 

    Our study of 900 million pages showed that the average 10,000-word post gets less search traffic than the average 2,000-word post. 

    Put simply: Longer does not mean more organic traffic. 

    So… stop obsessing over word count. No one wants to read longer content. Cover as deep as needed, cut out the unimportant aspects, and get to the point. 

    When I updated my post on free SEO tools, traffic shot up: 

    The increase in traffic after an update to a blog post

    Content can go “bad.” Information can become outdated, your target keyword’s search intent can change, and your rankings can drop. 

    When that happens, you’ll have to update your content. 

    The easiest way to find out which content to refresh is to install our free WordPress SEO plugin and run an audit. The audit will tell you which articles you should be updating. 

    Content audit results from Ahrefs' WordPress plugin

    If your content is exactly like everyone else’s, then there’s no reason to click, read, share, or link to your content over others. 

    You want your content to stand out. And the best way to do that is to share an opinion. 

    For example, our Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Tim Soulo wrote a rant about bad email outreach a few years ago. It was incredibly popular and got 2,200 backlinks from 469 unique websites: 

    Number of backlinks Tim's post on outreach received

    In fact, people still reference the guide on social media today: 

    In a world where everyone can generate content freely via AI, having a strong opinion will help differentiate your content and make it unique.

    You cannot expect each piece of content you create to hit all your content marketing goals. You need a variety. 

    Depending on your goals, you’ll likely need: 

    • Search-optimized content to acquire search traffic 
    • Linkbait to attract backlinks 
    • Sales enablement content to help your sales team close deals 
    • Thought leadership content to build authority in your industry 

    For example, content designed to rank isn’t the only type of content we create. We also publish data studies (for thought leadership and links), product updates (for retention), opinion pieces (for thought leadership), and free tools (for lead generation). 

    Content hubs are interlinked collections of content about a similar topic. For example, our beginner’s guide to SEO is a collection of our best guides: 

    Our beginner's guide to SEO is a content hub

    Since our blog is displayed reverse chronologically, a hub page helps our readers discover our content in an organized manner. 

    If you have tons of amazing content, create hub pages to link them together. 

    Your goal as a content marketer is not to avoid AI writing tools, but to play to their strengths. 

    For example, you can use ChatGPT or our free AI writing tools to complete menial tasks like: 

    • Brainstorm headlines and titles 
    • Come up with potential blog post ideas 
    • Expand article outlines 
    • Reword sentences
    • Whip up quick conclusions 

    This will free up your time to do what matters: create a solid content strategy, interview subject-matter experts, inject personal experiences, come up with opinions, and more. 

    Journalists and bloggers are always on the lookout for data and statistics to back up their claims. That explains why our most linked-to pages are mostly research studies: 

    Our most linked-to pages are mostly research studies

    We’re lucky because we have tons of big data to work with. But anyone can publish original research. You can run a poll on Twitter or LinkedIn, create a survey, or partner with someone who has access to data. 

    You could even use publicly available data and create your own methodology, like what Asher & Lyric did when they ranked the best countries to raise a family:

    Asher Fergusson's methodology for their post on the best countries to raise children

    Their post received a total of 322 backlinks from 201 referring domains: 

    Number of backlinks that Asher Fergusson's post on countries to raise a family got

    There are plenty of reasons to create video content: 

    1. YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world. 
    2. Not only is video engaging and interactive, it helps to demonstrate your product or service in action. 

    This is why we’ve heavily invested in creating YouTube content since 2018. It has paid off for us—we have 21+ million lifetime views and over 450,000 subscribers on our channel:

    Number of subscribers and lifetime views our YouTube channel got

    Most importantly, it drives new customers: 

    YouTube sends us a lot of new leads and customers

    If your content marketing focus has only been on written content, it’s time to consider creating YouTube videos too. 

    Final thoughts

    I hope you’ve walked away from this post with a handful of actionable content marketing tips you can apply to your business. 

    Did I miss out on any cool content marketing tips? Let me know on X (Twitter).

    Article Performance
    • Organic traffic
      552
    • Linking websites
      87

    The number of websites linking to this post.

    This post's estimated monthly organic search traffic.