24
Jun
2013
Quick, Custom, Competitive Research for Your Content Marketing in a Few Simple Steps
By: Ben Wills |

One of the several major improvements we've made here at Ontolo this year is a focus more on using Ontolo for content marketing. We've taken our previously-link-building-focused tools and both expanded and simplified the key components into the Instant Prospector which is a research tool for content marketing, link building, PR, outreach, and more.

With the Instant Prospector, you can use Ontolo's predefined Templates of Prospecting Phrases to find link opportunities like guest posts and blogs, or you can use Ontolo's predefined templates for content research and outreach for things like compilations of tips, how-to content, and research-based content.

One thing you can also do is to create your own types of content to research, the define the Prospecting Phrases to be used in your own, custom Template.

Here, I'll show you how with Ontolo, in just a matter of minutes, you can design your own competitive research for your content strategy. More specifically, before you create your content, this process will quickly help you discover:

  • How your competitors are producing similar content
  • Which content of theirs is ranking well
  • What types of content is ranking well
  • Ideas for future content you can create
  • Ideas for how to make the content you're about to write, better.

To quickly complete competitive research for your content, I've created the following process for you:

  1. Identify Your Potential Competitive Content Types
  2. Identifying Descriptive Phrases for Your Content
  3. Quickly Creating a Content Research Template
  4. The Simple Steps to Quickly Research Your Content Marketing Competition with Ontolo
  5. Viewing Your Competitive Content Research Report

First, Identify Your Potential Competitive Content Types

The types of content that are most successful change from industry to industry. In our little corner of the marketing industry, blog posts, presentation slides, guest posts, ebooks, and infographics are some of the most demanded pieces of content.

In another industry like the news, however, things like videos, podcasts, magazines, and newspapers are the leading content types.

As you design your competitive content research, be sure to take as much time as you need in order to identify what kinds of content your market wants and is consuming. Here's a list of content types for you to consider researching:

  • ebooks
  • presentation slides
  • books
  • newsletters
  • blogs
  • guides
  • white papers
  • magazines
  • newspapers
  • infographics
  • podcasts
  • videos
  • webinars
  • tools

Identifying Descriptive Phrases for Your Content

To avoid confusion with SEO or PPC keywords, we refer to link building and content research keywords and phrases as Prospecting Phrases. Prospecting Phrases are simply defined as: The words or phrases found in the content you're looking to find. Sometimes Prospecting Phrases will be the same as your keywords, but many times they won't.

If you're writing and researching content for a dog training guide, some Prospecting Phrases that would likely not be SEO or PPC keywords might be "dog whistle commands," "dog hand signals," and "positive reinforcement training for dogs."

With these as Prospecting Phrases, we can search Google, Bing, or any other search engine for these kinds of content.

The problem is, dog training video content will be very different than ebooks. If we're writing an ebook and use these Prospecting Phrases, we'll find any and every type of content when we only want to discover the written content our competitors are creating.

This is where we use Ontolo to combine our Prospecting Phrases with Content Types in order to quickly complete a large round of research.

Quickly Creating a Content Research Template

After you head over to the Instant Prospector, there are just a few simple steps.

  1. In the left navigation, click the Settings link. Here, you will be taken to the Instant Prospector's configuration page in the Campaign Manager. By default, "Create New Template" is the first option. We'll leave that as it is.
  2. Next, I'll give our template a name and will call it "Competitive Content Research - Written." I've used a generalized name so I know I can come back and use this for another project about a different topic. I could have also used dog-specific phrases. If so, I would have used a more specific Template Name
  3. I then chose several Prospecting Footprints that match the written content I'm looking to research. These are called "Footprints" because they are the common traces left on the content we're looking for. In this example, I've use all single-word footprints. I also must use "[KW]" so that Ontolo knows where to insert the Prospecting Phrases I might use with this Instant Prospector Report. Here are the nine Footprints I've used here:
    • [KW] blogs
    • [KW] books
    • [KW] ebooks
    • [KW] guides
    • [KW] infographics
    • [KW] magazines
    • [KW] newsletters
    • [KW] newspapers
    • [KW] white papers
  4. I then chose to share this Footprint Template with the Ontolo community. This means that you can login, right now, and use this exact template. If you wish to keep your templates private, leave this box unchecked.
  5. Finally, I simply click "Save Instant Prospector Settings."

The Simple Steps to Quickly Research Your Content Marketing Competition with Ontolo

With our template created, I can now create my Instant Prospector report. It should be noted again that Ontolo includes over two dozen pre-formatted link building and content marketing templates for you to use, in addition to more created and contributed by the community. So you don't need to do the previous step unless you'd like to customize your research specifically to your project.

With our Footprint Template created, simply click on "New Prospect List" in the left navigation of the Instant Prospector, then follow the simple steps below:

1. Enter Your Prospect List Name

Here, I'm using the Prospect List Name of "Dog Training Written Guides" so that I can easily reference it later in my list of Instant Prospector Reports for download.

2. Enter Your Prospecting Phrases

I've decided on five Prospecting Phrases for this report. You may use up to 10 per report.

3. Select Your Footprints Template

This is where you select the Footprints Template you created in the previous section. If you wish to use any of Ontolo's built-in templates, you may choose any from the "Ontolo Link Building Templates" or "Ontolo Content Research Templates" lists.

Here, I'm going to choose the template we just created, "Competitive Content Research - Written" from the "Your Custom Templates" list.

4. Choose the Number of Search Results to Return

Ontolo combines your Prospecting Phrases with your Prospecting Footprints to then query search engines for this research. A larger list is great for getting a comprehensive view of a content landscape. A smaller list is great for finding only the highest-quality content. How you are looking to research this content will determine how many search results to return.

5. Generate the Report

All you've gotta do now is click that button that says "Create New Link Prospects List."

Viewing Your Competitive Content Research Report

The report I created above went out and found the newest, most relevant content possible for this combination of five Prospecting Phrases and nine Footprint Templates.

I clicked the "Create New Link Prospects List" button at 3:04pm MST. I got the email confirming it was ready for download at 3:16pm MST.

The end result was 2,267 unique pieces of content found in only 12 minutes.

That's fast enough to create the report after you've started writing, then review the report while you're writing your content to fill in any blanks, then publish as quickly as you're done writing.

When you download your Instant Prospector report, you'll see that we pull lots of information for you in addition to sorting your content (or link prospects) based on an internal scoring system we've developed. We provide to you URL Scores, Subdomain Scores, and Domain Scores. This lets you sort your results in your spreadsheet to see which URLs, Subdomains (in case it's a site like subdomain.wordpress.com), and Domains are producing the content most relevant to your content marketing campaign.

With these scores, you can then quickly identify specific pieces of content which have proven to be valuable (URL Scores) and which sites to keep an eye on or even partner with (Domain Scores).

In addition to URL, Subdomain, and Domain scores, we also give you the following 23 additional pieces of data which will help you not only quickly identify great pieces of content similar to the content you're creating, but also provides to you link opportunities, contact information for outreach and partnerships, and social network accounts to keep in touch with partners and competitors.

  • Page Title
  • Link Opportunities
  • Contact URL
  • Email Addresses
  • Twitter Accounts
  • Facebook Accounts
  • Blog URL
  • RSS URL
  • Advertising URL
  • Total Outbound Links
  • Unique Outbound Links
  • Total NoFollowed Outbound Links
  • % NoFollowed Outbound Links
  • Unique Outbound Linked Subdomains
  • Unique Outbound Linked Domains
  • Competitor Domain Count
  • Competitor Domains
  • Crawl Date
  • Oldest Date in Content (Freshness)
  • URL
  • Subdomain
  • Domain
  • TLD

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