Startup Lessons

24 Content Marketing Tips That Actually Work

Are you looking for a list of tips that will improve your content marketing? You’re in the right place.

I’ve put together a selection of 24 content marketing tips that will bring your performance to the next level. I’ve also sorted them into categories covering every aspect of content marketing — from topic research to content promotion, and more.

Where appropriate, I’ve left links to further reading if you’d like to understand the tips deeper.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Topic Research

As a content marketer, it can be tempting to write about anything that currently excites you. It could be the latest fad in your industry, an exciting feature release or a random rant you want to get off your chest. 

But what you’re actually doing is throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping something will stick. 

If you’re writing about a hot topic — e.g. the latest piece of news — chances are your traffic will spike on the day of publishing and fade to nothing later. 

In the marketing world, we call this the “spike of hope” and the “flatline of nope.” 

spike of hope flatline of nope

To combat this, do keyword research. Since most blogs will acquire traffic from organic search, you should target keywords with search traffic potential. 

Here’s how to get started. Use a keyword research tool

1. Use a keyword research tool

From free keyword tools to premium versions, there is no shortage of them on the market. Brainstorm a few words or phrases related to your product, service or niche, then enter them into the keyword tool of your choice (find them by doing a search on Google.) 

For example, I could enter a keyword — “infographics” — into AnswerThePublic (a free keyword tool) and it will generate a bunch of ideas. 


This should be enough to get you started. 

If you’re looking for even more keyword ideas (together with important SEO metrics), you can use a paid tool like Keywords Explorer

Similarly, enter one or a few keywords and it will generate thousands of ideas for you.


2. Find high-volume, low-competition keywords

Most keyword tools will show you a keyword’s search volume — how many times a keyword is searched for in Google each month. Some keyword tools go further by showing you a keyword’s Keyword Difficulty — the ranking difficulty of a keyword. 

Take advantage by combining these two metrics together. Set the search volume to a minimum of 1,000 and Keyword Difficulty to a maximum of 10.


This will give you a list of low-competition topics with decent search volumes. 

NOTE. These are suggested numbers (not fixed!) Feel free to adjust them according to the competitiveness of your niche. 

3. Research communities

No matter what you sell, there will be communities discussing topics relevant to your niche. Search for groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and Slack. 

Join a few of these active groups, lurk around and find out what they’re discussing. 

For example, if you run an ecommerce store selling knives, you could participate in the subreddit r/knives. Look around the subreddit, and you’ll find topics like this:


Seems like “gentleman’s knife” could be a topic worth writing about. 

To check its search volume, install the Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere and do a Google search for the keyword. 


You can also do a search in tools like Keywords Explorer if you have access. 

4. Research your competitors

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could find out what keywords your competitors rank for so you could potentially replicate those topics?

You can. 

Most blogs tend to show off their best articles. 


You could simply click through to any of these posts, check the URL/title tags and figure out what keywords your competitors are optimizing for.


Or, you can use Site Explorer. Enter your competitor’s domain and go to the Organic Keywords report to see every keyword your competitor is ranking for. 


5. Match search intent

Just because a keyword has high volume, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good one to rank for. Take for example, “Google Analytics.”


At 1.8 million searches, it looks like a good keyword to target, right? 

Well, no. 

It’s likely that people are searching for “google analytics” to get to Google Analytics. Not only will you not outrank them, most people won’t even pay attention even if you rank #2. 

You should always consider search intent when doing keyword research. Search intent = what the searcher is looking for. 

To figure out search intent, enter your target keyword into Google and look at the top-ranking results.


Looks like most of the ranking pages for “back pain relief” are list articles on exercises/remedies for relieving back pain. 

So, if you were to target this keyword, you’d have to create a list-based article sharing different solutions on how to relieve back pain. 

6. Target topics with high business potential

At the end of the day, traffic is a vanity metric. Driving lots of traffic and not converting them into revenue is a pointless endeavor. 

Instead of simply targeting keywords with high search volume, further narrow down your list of keywords by focusing on those with high business potential. 

These are topics where your product or service is crucial for solving a particular problem. 

At Ahrefs, we use a simple scale: 

  • 3: our product is an irreplaceable solution for the problem;
  • 2: our product helps quite a bit, but it’s not essential to solving the problem;
  • 1: our product can only be mentioned fleetingly;
  • 0: there’s absolutely no way to mention our product.

We’ve found that the best topics are a balance between high traffic potential, low competition and high business value.

Content Creation/On-Page SEO

Done with keyword research? It’s time to create some content. 

Contrary to popular belief, content creation isn’t simply hiring a writer from Upwork and plastering 500-word articles all over your blog. That doesn’t work anymore.


To rank in Google today, you’ll have to create great content that deserves to be in the #1 position. 

With that said, here are some content creation tips.

7. Make your content easy to read

The purpose of your content is to get your reader to actually read it. After all, only by reading your content will they move on to the next step — signing up for your lead magnet, registering for a call or purchasing your product. 

If your content is difficult to read, then none of the above will happen. 

So, keep your copy nice and simple. Some tips:

  • Avoid big words. Keep it below an 8th-grade reading level. Use tools like Hemingway to help simplify your content. 
  • Include multimedia like images and videos to illustrate your points and break up big chunks of text.
  • Make your copy interesting through enticing subheadings and formatting like bold, italics, lists, etc.

8. Create the best piece of content on the topic

After so many years of reading and writing great content, we’ve found that good content embodies three characteristics. 

  1. Quality. Does the article actually solve a problem? Does it discuss the topic in great detail? Does the content flow? Is it interesting and entertaining? Is the design great? Is it easy to read? 
  2. Uniqueness. How does your article stand out from the rest of the articles published on the same topics? 
  3. Authority. Is your article written by an expert or authority on the topic? If you’re not an expert, can you interview one (or a few) to add credibility? 

If your content checks off this list, then you’re in good shape. 
Further Reading: How to Write a Blog Post in 9 Steps (That People Actually Want to Read)

9. Write a good introduction

You’ve convinced someone to click your article. Your job now is to keep them there. 

As old-school copywriters put it, “you have to make your copy a slippery slide.” Your reader should read the first sentence, then the next and the next until they reach the end of your article (and take action right after!)

To do this effectively, you have to write a great introduction. 

Here are two tips for writing a good intro: 

  • Keep it short. Scroll back up and look at my intro. I kept it short because I knew you were here for content marketing tips. That’s why I went directly into it. Go straight to the point and tell the reader exactly what they will get from reading your post. Even better: kickstart the blog post by letting the reader know you empathize with them.
  • Use a “bucket brigade.” Basically, you hint at the takeaways in the beginning, but not reveal everything. This opens a curiosity gap and makes the reader want to continue reading to find out more. (But, don’t misuse this as a clickbait trick!) 

10. Cover important subtopics

Did you know that the average #1 ranking page also ranks for almost 1,000 other keywords?


This means that a page can get traffic from all the keywords it ranks for, including tons of long-tail variations. 

If you’re creating the best piece of content on the topic, you’ll naturally already cover most of these long-tail variations. But you might wish to find out if there are certain subtopics you’re missing out on. 

Answer: look at what the top-ranking pages for your target keyword also rank for. 

To do this, enter these pages into Content Gap. Leave the “Doesn’t rank for” blank.


Content Gap will tell you what keywords these pages also rank for. Look through the list. They may spark some cool ideas/subtopics that you want to include in your post.


NOTE. Don’t shoehorn these keywords if it doesn’t fit. The readability of your content should take precedence. Frankly speaking, keyword stuffing is an outdated tactic that will do you more harm than good.

11. Include plenty of examples and real-world case studies

Show, not tell. 

If you want to differentiate your content, you’ll have to include examples and real-world case studies. Don’t say something generic and leave it as that. 

Make it compelling, convincing and further illustrate your point by pointing to practical examples on how and when it worked. 

For example, when I wrote a guest post for SmartBlogger, I made sure to include everything I’ve done and the results I’ve achieved. 


12. Use unique images

Visuals help people consume content quicker and easier. It also makes content more interesting and entertaining.

This explains why visual content — especially infographics — get so many links and shares. Not only that, if you create your own unique infographics and images, you can use them for link building

At Ahrefs, we have our own dedicated illustrator. But with tools like Piktochart, you too can easily create your own in less than 5 minutes and reap the rewards. 


13. Write a good headline/title

David Ogilvy said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” 

Before someone reads your content, you have to convince them to click on your page. To do this, you have to write a compelling headline. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Use “power” words. Awesome. Proven. Ultimate. These are words that evoke an emotional response from readers. Use them sparingly and accordingly to spruce up your headline. 
  • Include your target keyword. While this is not an absolute requirement, there is still a significant correlation between keywords in the title tag and rankings. Nevertheless, it is also a good way to show the user that your page is the most relevant result for their search.

14. Use short, descriptive URLs

A descriptive URL tells you what to expect from a web page. For example, the URL — us this page is about, well, awesome infographic ideas. 

Users are almost certainly more likely to click on a result that demonstrates what they should expect from the page. Plus, if someone were to link to your page, there is a high chance they’ll use your URL as their anchor text. 

Content Promotion

There is too much noise on the Internet. Even if you’ve published your best work, it’ll only remain a small blip on the Web.

If you want people to read, enjoy and share your content, you have to get it in front of them. You have to promote it. 

With a bit of hustle, you can reach plenty of people with these content promotion tactics. 

15. Share on social media

You should already know this. But just in case, I’m putting it here. 

Every time you publish a post, you should share it on social. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook — whichever social channels you’re active on, share it there. 

However, bear in mind that due to the algorithmic nature of these channels, most of your followers will likely not see it at the time you share it. 

To work around this, try recirculating your content (you can also retweet your tweets!) Basically, instead of sharing just once, share them a few times (make sure you tweak the message a little so it doesn’t look like you’re “spamming”.) 

Tools like MeetEdgar make this easy to do. 

Remember the unique images or infographics you’ve created for your content? You can recirculate your post in an intelligent way if you turn your article into individual tweets. For example, at Ahrefs, we share our infographics as standalone tweets. 

16. Build an email list

One of the most valuable activities you can do is to build an email list. With an email list, you can send hundreds of visitors to your blog, immediately after an article is published.

Some of them might even share your article with their friends or co-workers. 

If you’ve not built your email list, or you’re not focused on building it yet, the time to start is now. 

There are plenty of list building tactics out there, but in general, the goal is to offer something valuable in exchange for subscribing.


It could be a free course, a worksheet, an ebook, etc. Test different offers and see what resonates best with your audience. 

17. Community content promotion

Remember those communities you joined as part of your topic research? 

Turns out: they’re great for content promotion too. 

Since they’re relevant to your niche, they’ll be interested in reading your article. 

Now, this doesn’t mean it’s permission for you to strut in, drop your link and leave. If you do, you’ll find yourself booted and banned. Community admins live for engagement, and spammers ruin it. 

If you want people to actually click through to your articles, you have to prove to the group that you’re an active, helpful member. This means commenting on discussions, starting them and offering your help and advice on areas you’re an expert in. 

Only then can you start to promote your content in these groups. (That doesn’t mean you can take advantage of it too — make sure you’re constantly providing value.) 

18. Repurpose your content

If you’ve spent so much time, effort and money creating an awesome piece of content, don’t let it die after you publish. 

Make it last longer. Create multiple pieces of smaller content from your large piece of content. Turn your blog post into slide decks, LinkedIn posts, Medium posts, etc. You can even record an audio version or turn it into a video.

19. Use the “Splintering Technique”

Similar to “repurposing your content”, you can also turn your epic piece of content into smaller pieces that you can publish as guest posts.


After all, you’ve done the research. All that’s left is to rewrite your existing article into separate, smaller guest posts. 

20. Reach out to relevant people

Outreach is a strategy where you get your content in front of influencers in your niche, and try to get them to talk about you and link to you.

Now, outreach is not “spam.”

You should only reach out to people who would be relevant to your content. Typically, these are two groups of people:

  1. You mentioned them/quoted them in your post;
  2. They’ve published something similar in the past, and your post has something unique/groundbreaking they’ll be interested in. 

Once you’ve collected a list of these people, send them an email and give them a compelling reason to care. If you’ve mentioned them, tell them you’ve mentioned them and why. If it’s a unique insight, give a quick summary of your post and tell them why it’s unique/groundbreaking.


If you do this right, the shares and links will come naturally. 

21. Ads

The above content promotion tactics I’ve suggested are “free” or low-cost. But if you have the budget, don’t forget that you can always pay for traffic. 

At Ahrefs, we’ll commit at least $100 on Facebook Ads to promote every article we publish. And at ~$0.30 a click, we think this strategy works for us. 

You should test a couple of paid channels and see if it makes sense for your business and budget. Even if Facebook Ads doesn’t work for you, you can always test platforms like Twitter, Quora, Google, etc.


Want more content marketing tips? 

Here’s some more that I couldn’t fit in the above categories. 

22. Add internal links

Ever dropped in the Wikipedia rabbit hole? It happens when you first start reading a Wikipedia article, then get deeper and deeper into the site as you navigate from topic to topic. 

You should aim to do the same with your own content. 

Add internal links from your newly published post to older posts on your site, and vice versa. This helps to keep readers on your site. 

The simplest way to get started is to do a “site:” search on your own website. Find a page you want to link to. Go to Google, enter + “target keyword”. 

This search operator will show you the indexed pages on your site that mention the keyword. For example:


Run through the list and see if there are relevant pages from which you can add internal links. 

23. Update content regularly

Even if you’re already ranking #1 for your target keyword, there’s no guarantee that you’ll stay there indefinitely. Competitors may try to steal your spot, or Google may drop your rankings if your content becomes outdated. 

You’ll have to keep your content up-to-date in order to maintain your rankings. 

To get started, use Revive. Revive connects to your Google Analytics and tells you which posts needs to be refreshed. From there, figure out which sections are outdated by reviewing the post and the current top-ranking pages. 

Refresh those parts. In certain cases, you might find that you’ll have to rewrite the whole post — which is what we do often at Ahrefs. 

24. Run a content audit

A content audit is where you take stock of all the content on your site, analyze them and decide if they should be kept as-is, deleted, redirected, updated or any other action. 

Think of it as a spring-cleaning for your site. Over time, you’d have published posts that didn’t get any traffic or are low-quality. The content audit gives you a chance to clean everything up, and make your other pages better/higher-quality.

Here’s the process we follow when we run a content audit:


Final Thoughts

Content marketing is an ongoing process, and hopefully, you’ve found a couple of tips in here that’ll help improve whatever you’re doing currently. 

These 24 tips are not the end though.

In order for your content marketing to work, you have to keep on studying and learning. Read from the best blogs, study the work of other smart content marketers and keep on testing and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. 

Who knows? You might be writing your own content marketing tips post in the future.

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