It’s coming up on four years that I’ve been managing a niche news site that covers the world of poker in Canada. In that time, PokerNews Canada has come from a shell of a site with very little traffic to the top resource in the country with 1.5 million page views.
We didn’t get lucky and we don’t have a magic formula and we never spent a dime on paid promotion. Our success came from one thing: consistent content.
While we also have a team of contributors who provide content for the site, I’ve personally written approximately 200 articles a year for PokerNews Canada, creating hundreds of pages of quality content that has made us the top-ranking search result in many of the keywords we need to target.
Here are the six strategies I use to consistently create new content that is relevant to our readers:
#1: Maintain a Content Calendar
Every Wednesday, I dedicate an hour to laying out content for the following week. We use a team management app called Asana for everything we do at London Road Media, including all of the tasks involved with managing PokerNews Canada. I plan out what content will be published each day of the week, assigning most of it to myself and some to our contributors.
Having a content calendar is amazing for productivity. There was a time when I didn’t know what I’d write about each day until I sat down and came up with a topic and then wrote it, edited it, published it, shared it, and did it all over again the next day. As soon as I implemented a content calendar, I suddenly felt like I was doing the same amount of work in half the time.
The hour invested each week in scheduling content will see a return of many more hours freed up by increased productivity. This is an absolute must.
I should also note that I can still be responsive with content. If a story pops up that is time-sensitive, we’ll publish a story about it as soon as we can. The content scheduled for that day will either get bumped to another day, or we run both articles.
#2: Schedule Recurring Content
There are three articles a week that are recurring content on PokerNews Canada. Every Monday is a review of top Canadian successes in online tournaments, every Thursday is an update on the ranking of the best players in the country based on live tournament results, and every Saturday is a recap of all of the week’s news in one concise piece.
These need to be monitored to make sure they’re still valuable and performing well, but, with some experimenting, it’s very useful to have recurring content to fill the calendar. That’s three content ideas per week that I don’t need to come up with!
#3: Subscribe to News Alerts
To stay on top of industry updates, policy changes, relevant news, and everything else an editor should know about, news alerts are very useful. Google will send you daily emails with links to any content that includes keywords you select.
I have Google Alerts set up to email me any new web content that includes the words “poker” and “Canada”. Every day, I look through the email they send and see if there’s anything newsworthy that I don’t already know about and add it to the content calendar. Usually, 19 times out of 20, I just delete the email after a quick scan. But once in awhile there’s something to make note of.
#4: Do Keyword Research
After running a site for several years, you have a pretty good idea of what keywords you rank well for and what keywords are popular with the audience you seek to attract. But it’s still good to do some keyword research once in awhile to find content opportunities. Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner is helpful for this, but there are other tools too.
I did this recently and learned that there are a lot of searches for terms like “best poker player in Canada” and I’d never written an article specifically targeting those searches. So I wrote an article to fill that keyword gap and it was ranking on the first page of Google results within hours. I checked again a few weeks later and it was the second result, beat only by the website that tracks player results which I used as a source to write the article.
It’s a good idea to spend some time doing keyword research to learn what opportunities are out there. You’re looking for search terms that are used often but are not too competitive to be ranked for. It doesn’t take much time to come up with a few pages of keywords to target, all of which can inspire new content.
#5: Cover Live Events
As the leading source for industry news in the country, PokerNews Canada provides paid content, mostly in the form of live event coverage. Our team of contributors travel all over the country to provide great content for gaming brands during their live events. While we have certain content we’re contracted to provide while at the event, I also look for other content opportunities while at an event like an interesting story or interview.
But even if we’re not at the event, there are still opportunities to create timely content around live events. We can use other sources to write about what is happening, or curate data or social media posts that are generated during an event. It’s important to know about the industry-relevant real-world events that are happening, because they supply plenty of topics to write about.
#6: Get Creative
If you’re reading this to find new strategies for how to find consistent content ideas, this one won’t be much help to you because this might be the one thing you’ve been solely relying on so far. I’m talking about brainstorming new ideas. That means just sitting down to try to think up new content ideas. But it’s really difficult to do that day after day.
There’s a reason this is on the bottom of the list. But it needs to be included because it’s still a part of a larger strategy. There will be times when I just sit down and try to force out some creativity for new content ideas. Then I’ll write them all down and throw one or two in the content calendar per week until I need to come up with more.
This is where how-to guides, best-of lists, interviews, long-form research pieces, editorials, and other kinds of content come from. But there isn’t really a process for forcing out fresh ideas. Just be ready with a pen and notebook at all times so that when one pops to mind, you can make note of it for later.
Using these six tools, I’ve been able to write 200 articles per year for almost four years. Anyone can do the same and, if the writing is good, it’s published in an attractive way, and they’ve targeted an audience and their relevant keywords, this will unfailingly create online brand strength their competitors will envy.