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The Science of Content (That Doesn’t Perform)

Last time I covered a whole new set of suggestions for making great content that builds links for online stores. But it isn’t just -commerce that relies on content-driven SEO: everyone, from law firms to local restaurants, can leverage content marketing for big traffic boosts. At least, most of the time. What if you’re putting out all the content, and seeing no return?

A new in-depth article from Derek Edmond has you covered. Derek expects his content campaigns to bring more traffic and improved SEO, and when it doesn’t, he does some serious snooping. Here is an overview of his approach, and the science of content marketing behind it.

Diagnosing Your Content

All in all, content marketing is a pretty reliable tool. Thus, Derek’s work proceeds from the idea that you need to evaluate not only what your own content is doing (or not doing, as the case may be) but also what your competitors’ content is doing. In other words, if your competition is fighting to improve their content or SEO at the same time you are, it could look like you’re not making progress—when really, the content campaign is the reason you aren’t falling behind.

Thus, Derek assumes that you have done basic research on competitor sites as well, looking at who’s ranking for your keywords, what their content strategy is and what else they’re doing, as best you can tell from the outside. (If you haven’t done this research, it’s never too late to start. Even just a few weeks of watching your competitors will give you a sense of who’s on the move and who isn’t.)

Derek recommends looking at some specific factors:

  1. Check if your benchmarks still make sense. Maybe you noticed your competitor blogs once a week, so you decided to blog twice a week. But have they increased their pace? Derek recommends re-assessing competitors in terms of types of content being produced, frequency, and engagement factors (shares, comments) among others.
  2. Look at the search results again. Or better yet, look at them all the time. Is there a change in what kind of content is ranking? Has Google blended in more ads or info graphs that knock organic listing down farther?
  3. Evaluate social media growth. If the competitor’s content hasn’t changed, and neither have the search results, Derek suggests checking whether competitors have ramped up social media efforts. In other words, your content is losing to their because theirs is getting pushed to more followers.
  4. Know your link profiles. The reason digital marketing agencies use so many different SEO tools is because it lets us see the link profiles of competitor websites—in other words, how many links they’re getting and from where. If a competitor is building backlinks somewhere, that could be why your content isn’t pushing you ahead of them.

Derek goes into a lot more detail on these points, and offers links to specific tools you can use to help. If you’re serious about understanding your content’s performance I highly recommend reading the whole article.

The Question of Quality

While all of Derek’s points are good, I was shocked that he didn’t bring up the most basic (and common) problem: quality. Not all businesses use professional agencies to develop their content, and even those that do often mix professional content with write-it-yourself copy to save money. This approach is fine if you have the in-house talent to do it, but if you’re putting out lots of content and seeing no results you may want to consider whether it’s really that well-written.

The hallmarks of good content include:

  • It has “hooks” that pull the reader in. A great headline, strong intro, and good subheaders.
  • There is valuable, original information in all your content.
  • Text is broken up with visuals (photos, charts, lists, bullet points, section headings).
  • Points are made clearly and concisely.
  • It’s well edited and readable.

Ideally, your content also has a distinct voice that matches your branding.

How much of this is your company getting right, and where could you improve your content strategy? Do you need professional help? EverSpark Interactive offers a detailed SEO technical audit, content creation, and customized SEO/marketing strategies. We’re happy to help you get your campaign off the ground or make an existing campaign bear fruit. Contact us for a free consultation today.