Content Strategy Evaluation For SEO in 2018
This is the seventh post in our How to Conduct an SEO Audit in 2018 series. If you're just joining us, we recommend starting at the introductory post.
You can tick all the boxes and nail everything else about SEO, but to see continued success with SERP performance, traffic, conversions, and growth, you need to have a winning content strategy.
This section of the guide is to help you understand if your current content strategy is working, its strengths and weaknesses, and what you need to improved to get more out of your content.
Content analysis and evaluation should be focused on your landing pages that are keyword-targeted and any regularly published content like your blog.
Good news: If you have a limited amount of content, or your presence on the web is relatively limited, this process can actually go pretty quickly!
Bad news: If you have a large content portfolio, content analysis can be a massive time-sink. If you fall in this category, it would be smart to delegate tasks to others in your organization and only focus on recent content that's relevant to your current campaigns, overall strategy, and business goals.
The most important rule when analyzing your content strategy is that you need to be objective, impartial, and critical. It can be hard to critique your own work, but you have to be unbiased to be effective. If you know you can't do this, don't be afraid to bring in an outside party to help give honest feedback.
We know at this point that almost everyone utilizes some form of content marketing, but just because they're using it doesn't mean they're successful..
The article linked above is a great read, but there are a few important statistics you should pay attention to:
Only 27% of all marketers have a documented strategy
89% of marketers without a documented content strategy are unsuccessful
This is telling. Less than one-third of marketers have a documented content strategy, and the majority of marketers who don't have one are unsuccessful.
This is your chance to refine and document your strategy, or build it from the ground up. The benefits to your business are enormous.
Spend The Effort on Original and Unique Content
This goes without saying: create your own content! It's okay to write about trending topics, and different opinions and discourse is important, but what you post on your site for your business needs to be yours, unique, and original.
This means two things: don't copy low-quality click-bait content, and do not, do not, DO NOT EVER plagiarize content. The second should go without saying, but aside from the obvious ramifications, search engines hate duplicate content. They also know the age of content, and will give ranking authority to the older content and down-rank yours.
Take the time to develop original content that's relevant and engaging to your users. They'll appreciate it, and it benefits both them and you more than recycled and low-effort content.
Make It Have Purpose
Relevant content means it's useful for your audience. You should know your buyer personas pretty well at this point, so write content that helps them. Whether it's solving a problem they have or providing relevant information, make sure you're creating with your customers in mind.
The most successful content marketers establish themselves as subject matter experts; you need to aim to do the same. Make sure that the content you provide lets your customers know that you're a trusted resource, so when they need what you provide they'll come to you. Being a trusted, helpful resource is one of the most powerful tools in inbound marketing.
Similar to the previous point, you need to make sure that you're putting out content that's better than your competitors'.
If they're writing mediocre blog posts, you need to write killer blog posts. If they're writing killer blog posts, you need to up your game and include some premium content offers like eBooks. If your competitors are putting out videos and podcasts that are getting great engagement, then you need to regroup and find an avenue that will engage your target audience more than they are.
Content marketing between competitors can be a bit of an arms race. But in any arms race, even an underdog can come out on top through some clever thinking, creativity, and a solid knowledge of their target and goals.
Make your audience feel like the content was written for them! (It was, wasn't it?) Understanding the goals and pain points of your buyer personas will help you craft relevant content that pulls the reader in. By demonstrating this you'll generate a rapport between you and your audience.
Just like school, do your research and cite your sources. This serves two purposes. It shows an attention to detail, signifying that you care about accuracy and accountability, which helps establish trust and authority. It also helps with SEO via outbound link-building to other authoritative sources.
Don't over-do it, though. Too many links and quotes means that you'll have too little original, relevant content.
Length and Quality
Recently, longer content has been performing better in Google, and Google themselves have said they favor in-depth content over short-form content. Content that ranges between 1000-2500 words performs best, but this is just a guideline. Always ensure the content is tailored to your audience based on the information you collected when building your buyer personas.
Also, make sure that you spell-and-grammar-check your work. Nothing hurts credibility more than blatant (and easily fixed) typos. A more subtle component to the quality of your writing is style and complexity. Content to market an impulse-purchase product to college students requires a different voice than to market a niche enterprise-grade SaaS to Fortune 500 companies.
We've covered links before. Two things:
Keep them relevant with proper anchor text.
Make sure they're not broken
Ads and Affiliate Links
Ads are a pretty obvious issue - users dislike ads, and if your revenue stream is built on ads, make sure they're as unobtrusive to users as possible.
Affiliate links, however, are a new issue for SEO in 2018. The Google Fred update targeted low-value content sites with excessive affiliate links as... well, low-value to users. Sites flagged by the update plummeted in rankings almost immediately. So, if you have been using affiliate links, make sure that they're there to help your users and lightly support your content, not your revenue stream.
These items are just the first steps to identifying and refining your content strategy. If you want to be truly successful, take the time and effort to build and document a content strategy around your buyer personas. At the end of the day, your users are the foundation of your business, so make sure you're growing and strengthening your relationship with them through the content you produce.
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