Over the last couple of years, we have seen a remarkable interest and growth in content investment as a digital marketing strategy.
Of course, content isn’t a new idea, and it existed in many forms way before SEO was even born. However, the rise of content marketing in the digital world can be linked to the Google Panda rollout. Furthermore, Hummingbird, machine learning, RankBrain, and further algorithmic developments have radically changed the way SEO professionals look at link building and content.
Content: What’s Changed?
Before Panda, content (at least for the majority of SEOs) wasn’t the most important part of Search Engine Optimization. Years back, if a website had relevant content and managed to get a high number of backlinks, it would make it to the top of the Google SERP.
Fast-forward a decade, and the entire game has changed thoroughly. Content and backlinks remain important, but Google has now introduced a variety of massive shake ups and new precepts to the game, making it arduous for the dunce webmasters to manipulate the search algorithmic signals.
Consequently, it is getting tougher than tough to stand out from the noise as people are exposed, and mediocre content fails to impress them. There are 70 million posts published every month (WordPress alone). If you’re not actively settling apart from this inferior writing strategy, none of these people will be reading your content either.
For instance, low-ranking websites are clogged with many 500-word bland content posts offering no actual value but not as many meaty 2000+ words posts that drive readers in-depth on a subject. Ensuring that your website ranks well on search engines and entices the action that you’re seeking from others is only achievable via quality content.
Writing about your subject expertise and product services demonstrates your credibility and brand-authority to potential customers, and even so, what else? Yes, you guessed right! It helps you rank dominantly on search engines for relevant keywords.
But how much should you publish? A gauche puzzle at the very early stage!
Content: Quality v/s Quantity. Debate Continues…
Knowing how to formulate consistent, high-quality content on your website is crucial to market and advertise your services.
How much content should be enough?
Any business looking to rank organically struggles with this question: Quality or Quantity?
The empirical evidence and theories on this debate are mixed, but I’ve seen the helter-skelter of a marketer’s day. They’re ready to jump into buying more reach or frequency just to inflate the number of leads.
Think about it – What do you intend to do? Is it 10 mediocre posts with little to no traffic, or one outstanding piece, the game changer?
From entrepreneurs to large organizations, there’s nothing more attractive than the model of quality leads that convert to purchase in a matter of time.
It’s no surprise that every webmaster or writer can pump out 10-to-15 blog posts weekly, each of which rendering like Spinbot wrote them. Without allocating the finest resources for research, creation and plan, the content-grade will likely be affected as the writing team’s performance endures with having a quicker frequency.
The rationale is that the more rapid the frequency, the higher the chance of covering enough topics to match your user’s search intent and ranking for Google search queries.
Ideally, this makes sense.
Every new post that’s published on a blog is another possibility to appear on the Google SERP. Isn’t it? This should lead to impeccable traffic growth coming from search engines over time.
But only if you create outstanding content, a real distinguisher between you and other competitors, sooner or later benefiting you snag a spot at the top search rankings and getting the audience affinity.
That’s the priority.
Simply put, people have questions, and Google has to answer by putting worthy blue links and content that will serve its users best at the top of SERP.
- If you blog to reap long-term content marketing ROI, then create high-quality content that matches your Top of the Funnel (TOFU) marketing strategy.
- Hone in on the audience’ concerns, do keyword research and analysis, and offer exclusive knowledge that others don’t.
According to Marketing Insider Group, you shouldn’t trade-off between these two – content quantity and quality. With content amplification and few tweaks to your strategy, you can merge both worlds. Hold your piece of cake!
People turn to search to get immediate answers, narrow their search to a business, become more aware, and also touch other brands before ultimately taking a buying call.
How does this work for your brand?
More content or better content?
Michael Brenner says, “more, better content.”
Content: It’s About Your Audience…
Thanks to the NLP (natural language processing), Google actually scores your content, determines the sentiment and understands how well it serves your targeted audience.
Serial entrepreneur, Eric Ries, values more focus on actionable metrics over vanity ones.
Alright, Eric! So, the engagement rate is the new metric across all marketing channels.
You own a product, and you’ve launched an excellent website. Great!
If you haven’t weighed the questions your audience has in mind, your chances of coming to the top of SERP are much less. Instead, if your content provides people with answers they are looking for, besides just selling the product/service, you will get a better response.
Based on your targeted keyword that you think is worth trailing, it’s time to truly get what users want to read.
You’ll get invaluable content ideas through Google Trends, Search Console, Analytics data, Keyword Planner, Quora, forums, People also ask, and Reddit discussions. Quora, specifically, is great for audience research because people get to upvote responses that they like. If the problem is hot enough, you might find a new angle of keywords and content topics that get hundreds of upvotes.
Content: Does length matter?
Some studies indicate that longer content outperforms shorter content.
Lengthier content and how-to guides tend to solve the problems of users better than short-form content. But that alone doesn’t mean longer content is always qualitative than the shorter ones.
You know the rule. Don’t write for bots but people.
Search Engine Land’s Columnist, John Lincoln, puts it succinctly, “Long-form content can make you look like more of an expert in your field, increase the likelihood of engagement and sharing, improve your search engine results page (SERP) rank, and increase your audience; because of your content, you will be viewed as an “authority” on the subject.”
In the same column, John advises to not go for 1200 (that’s the minimum) but 1500-2000 words to earn a competitive gain with the extra cushion.
According to the serpIQ study, the average word count of each of the top 10 results for more than 20,000 keywords was over 2,000 words.
While all these studies denoting the same thing, there is some variance between what they all consider the perfect word count.
Yoast SEO recommends posts of more than 1,000 words, while Buffer reports that 1600 words make a fundamental base to get started.
But Rand Fishkin conquered my heart:
Great Content ≠ Long-Form Content
And guess what, he decoded the secret of a perfect post length and publishing frequency – B?!!$#÷x
This is so obvious. The perfect blog post length or publishing frequency doesn’t really exist.
The hard fact is that Google doesn’t treat word count as a metric.
Reportedly, 10% of users turn to Google to learn about a broad topic. Here’s an opportunity for you to help people with comprehensive content.
According to Orbitmedia’s 2019 study, the average blog post has 1236 words.
Content: Appeals Time and Efforts
If you’re writing a well-researched article, the research, writing, visuals, and editing process require exponential time. It’s so overwhelming to work on lengthy blog posts.
- It takes two hours for Jon Morrow (smartblogger.com) to just prepare his headlines.
- Backlinko spends 20 hours on a new post.
- Seth Godin (seths.blog) requires at least 16 hours to research before writing.
On the other hand, you have just 15 seconds or less to keep the readers’ attention, or they will hit the back button.
It takes visual media, interactive videos, logical deep linking, polls, and surveys for webmasters to reduce the bounce rate, but in turn, this can improve your time-on-site and SERP rankings.
Small business owners shouldn’t be trying to spend less time writing the content, but more.
Remember the key ingredients of a good blog post.
- Magnetic headline
- compel visitors to read the full post
- Useful subheads (H2/H3)
- Informative and engaging body
- Appealing graphics
- Powerful call-to-action
- Relevant internal links,
- Optimized meta tags and then
- Expand its reach.
Looking at your competitors’ blog might help but remember: you have to give a reason to your customers to access your content and to come back to find out more. If your blog or tutorials are similar copies of other websites, leads and prospects won’t understand your unique proposition since you aren’t offering any added value.
Grow your content engine steadily and let it work for you.