High-quality content backed up by smart SEO is essential for the success of marketing efforts, but achieving it is actually tougher than it seems. Content marketing has proven moderately successful in 53% of cases, while it’s been minimally successful or unsuccessful altogether in 23% of cases. Those are certainly unsatisfying numbers, but what is there to be done to get results marketers and business owners can be happy with?
The answer – DATA. Or to be more precise, SEO-related data. With access to relevant information, you can analyze it and use it to incorporate it in your content strategy to create customized, relevant and insightful content that will be more valuable to your target audience. Here is how to do that.
Firstly, you need to know what your audience is searching for, and that is what keyword data can tell you a lot about. However, what is more important is why they are searching for certain terms. If you know their search intent, you will be able to create more valuable content – which will be “the best answer” for your audience.
For example, when looking in Google Search Console, if you see that one of your posts is ranking really well for a specific query, but has a low time on page, that could be an indicator that your content doesn’t match up with your audience’s intent. Because of this, your organic audience is probably bouncing from the page. If you can optimize that post to align with their search intent, you’ll likely increase the odds that they’ll stick around.
You can also use search intent to identify new content opportunities or gaps. When researching potential keywords in Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush, do your own recon and search the term in an incognito browser window. What content is ranking at the top for each query? What questions is it answering? What is so compelling about that page? Once you’ve analyzed what has made that page successful and helpful, you can apply those same tactics to your own content.
Secondly, don’t hesitate to take advantage of your older, but high-performing content – because it IS there for the long haul. It actually takes time for content to reach its maximum SEO value and drive notable organic results. Moreover, with SEO algorithm changing as often as it does, what once might have been a low-performing piece of content, now could be on top. The content potential is limitless – if you actually use it.
Using Google Analytics or Search Console, you can review the current keyword rankings, impressions, and clicks for your existing content. To draw insight from this data, you should ask yourself:
– Are there any posts that have multiple page one rankings?
– What is each page ranking for?
– Which posts have the highest organic CTR or number of impressions?
These answers will help you surface your top performers that have the most SEO value. Once identified, you can link to those pages in future content to share that value and further boost your content’s organic performance.
Thirdly, don’t confuse low search volume with low content value. Yes, it’s tempting to go after searches with high volume, but it’s not always the best choice. Also, with voice search on the rise, search queries are only getting longer.
When reviewing potential keyword targets, pay special attention to the long-tail variations of your short-tail topical areas to find the real questions people are asking. Of the long-tail variations you identify, which ones have the least amount of competition? Is the estimated CPC high or low? This practice can help you find a niche, relevant keyword with a low competitive score that could be a quick, easy page one ranking that you didn’t have before.
Fourthly, you need to track the behavior of your search traffic – once someone finds you through search, what do they do next? Do they bounce? Do they fill out a form on your website? In mapping the next steps your audience takes for each keyword group, you can understand better where they are in the funnel and customize additional content that helps move them from stage to stage.
To do this, use the Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics and filter your audience segment to organic traffic to see how your organic audience is navigating your site. Using this method, you can see which pages are bringing the most people in from search engines and where they go next. If you’re seeing incomplete calls to action or audience drop-off, this is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play.
Through CRO and A/B testing tools, you can make small changes to your existing content (CTA placement, content length, etc.) and see what resulted in more conversions. As for what this means for your content strategy, you should look for what specific changes moved the needle or caused a dip in performance. Armed with the results, you can take what worked well and apply it to both your past and future content.
Fifthly, regularly review inbound links to find top-performing content. As you know, linking is quite high on the ladder when it comes to SEO strategizing, as it signals to search engines that you are an authoritative and credible source of information. The bigger number of higher-ranking sites you have linking to your content, the better chance they have to rank higher in the SERPs.
In looking at the number of sources linking to your content, you can see which topics others find the most helpful, giving you a framework you should try to replicate in future content. In addition, you can create supporting blog posts that further promote or amplify your most linked to content.