It’s that time of year again; bells are ringing, carolers are singing, and just about every agency is pushing out their recaps of 2017 and predictions for 2018 — including us. So instead of embarrassing ourselves six months from now when cloud-hosted virtual reality geo-pets don’t turn out to be the digital marketing innovation of the year, we thought we’d take a look back at 2017 for ways you can improve your existing content strategies that you may have not spent a lot of time thinking about (don’t worry; we have).
1. DON’T: PUSH OUT CONTENT FOR THE SAKE OF PUSHING OUT CONTENT.
In our experience, a lot of agencies and clients have a mindset of quantity over quality in an attempt to flood their blog and social outlets with huge libraries of content. Some clients have the notion that they need to be posting every day just to get noticed — an idea only accentuated by top publishers and 24-hour news networks boasting that they were the “first” to publish a story rather than asking if they were the “best”.
There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week for a user to digest content on top of their already busy lives, and unless your brand is one that warrants daily or weekly thought by your target consumer, you probably don’t need to create daily posts that are only going to be digested by a handful of users before the next content piece is dropped.
Organic social channels have a fraction of the reach they did years ago, and unless you’re supporting your content with paid efforts, the likelihood of qualified users stumbling across your content at the right time is relatively low. Facebook in particular uses bounce rates and time on site to determine whether or not users are actually reading content on their newsfeeds, which it uses to give high performing content a wider reach while lower performing content will receive minimal organic reach. So even if you have the best Click-Baity headline that’s generating tons and tons of clicks, your content still might not be distributed on Facebook unless those users actually spend time reading and engaging with the content.
The effect that blog content has on search engines is also a slow race, and while search engines do consider an article’s publication date in rankings, they’ll routinely point users toward the most relevant content rather than the most recent content. Google even rewards content that is routinely updated, allowing you to inject new life in the SEO rankings of some of your historically high-traffic-driving content.
DO: PRODUCE ‘10X CONTENT’.
Instead of weekly blogs, focus on producing High Quality content that involves more research, more creative assets, more relevant keywords, and ultimately focus on making sure that the content you’re producing meets a certain standard rather than meeting a certain deadline.
Moz has a really simple rule they call 10x content, which boils down to the idea that any new blog, article, or content piece you produce should be 10 times better than the highest ranked content that already exists for your subject. Before producing a blog, article, or content piece, search through Google or social outlets and try to find similar content to what you were going to produce, and make a genuine effort to produce something that is stronger, more concise, and generally something that puts that content to shame.
10x content should focus on one subject matter per post, with each post serving a particular purpose, such as driving leads to a gated piece of content or supporting a recent campaign. It’s an arbitrary rule (and one that’s hard to define in the strictest sense), but you’ll be able to identify 10x content when you see it. 10x content will help build relevance and authority faster and longer and has a higher chance of your content going viral and being shared amongst your customers.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to look back at your own history of content to see what drives the most traffic and the most results for your website or business and use that as a starting place.
2. DON’T: USE ORGANIC STRATEGIES AS YOUR ONLY FORM OF CONTENT DISTRIBUTION.
The standard (and often forgotten) strategy for digital content updates dates back to the tried and true eNewsletter, which has only become increasingly high-tech, with automated journeys and audience segmentation tools that make it extremely easy to chop up and distribute content based on all of the knowledge you have on that user.
However, users’ spam folders are bigger than ever, and email clients like Gmail automatically filter emails into different tabs, separating your email content from their primary inbox. So unless a user is particularly engaged with your content and email campaigns, it’s easy for them to suffer from message fatigue and hit that unsubscribe button.
Which brings us to social media. As mentioned, organic content reach on the largest networks has been steadily declining for years with algorithmic changes on networks like Facebook and Youtube that have been designed to generate more engagement and ad revenue than organic reach or distribution, even amongst your own audiences. Researchers say that currently only 2 to 6 percent of your fans are actually seeing your posts. Additionally, Twitter has been unable to grow users in 2017 and has not focused on making improvements to their ad platform, which has lead marketers to abandon it for other social platforms with more ad support.
While there are certainly a number of ways to optimize your social content so it gets the maximum reach possible on organic channels, it won’t hold a candle to the volume of reach and traffic you can generate with a paid campaign — even on a shoestring budget.
DO: SUPPORT YOUR CONTENT WITH PAID TACTICS AND CUSTOM AUDIENCES.
Instead of rolling the dice and hoping users will stumble across your content organically, use Facebook boosted posts to not only increase your reach but to also ensure you are getting your message in front of the right people at the right time.
Pro Tip: you can build more complex audiences using the Facebook Ads Manager and have more control over when and where your ads will show up than with standard boosted posts.
Facebook’s ad network offers a ton of tools that allow you to support your organic content with extremely targeted audiences ranging from simple tricks like retargeting, to building custom audiences based off of your email database, or even targeting the most engaged users on your facebook page.
Facebook’s Audience Tools even allow you to create custom audiences based on engagement from a specific post, or series of posts. So if you have a new blog or content piece that is similar in substance to something you’ve already posted, you can create an audience of users who clicked through and read that first content piece, increasing the odds that that audience will respond and engage with your new content. Facebook also rewards higher performing content with lower costs.
Additionally, if you’re already running paid search campaigns, add some of your most relevant and highest performing content pieces as Sitelinks Ad Extensions on your campaigns. This might take more effort, as it will require managing the campaign down to the adgroup level to ensure these sitelinks are only showing up for relevant keywords and queries. Just make sure you’ve optimized blogs to push users into your sales funnel; the last thing you want is to send paid search traffic to a dead end on your website.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have a Facebook Pixel installed on your website and implement standard tracking codes so you can attribute any sales or leads back to your paid content campaign.
3. DON’T: RELY ON TEXT-ONLY SEO STRATEGIES FOR YOUR BLOG.
We’ve talked a lot about text-based content so far, But let’s address the the elephant in the room:
No seriously; that’s an image titled “Elephant in the Room” saved as “elephant-in-the-room.jpg” with alt text describing the image as “an Elephant in a Room”. What I’m saying is that this image is optimized within the content management system so that Google and other search engines can determine, not only what is in the image, but also the context of the image as it relates to a search query.
All content on a website, be it text-based, or multimedia, such as images and videos, has the potential to help contribute to your reach on search engines. But Google sees the images, videos and audio files you use to either enhance or supplement your blog content as simple blocks of code, so it’s up to you to optimize it on the back-end to provide Google with the proper context as it relates to the rest of the content on the page.
DO: OPTIMIZE ALL OF YOUR MULTIMEDIA FILES.
From the name and description of the file to the alt-text that appears when a user hovers over an image, you need to optimize your content in order for Google to know what those multimedia files are on your blog. Any videos or audio files you have produced should have a transcript submitted so Google can draw comparisons between keywords used in your multimedia files to the rest of the text on your blog.
It may not seem like much, but by providing that additional piece of context, Google will be able to establish more authority with the content of the blog as a whole rather than having to just rely on the text.
At Google’s I/O this past year, they announced Google Lens, which is software used to identify objects and content in a user’s photo, allowing them to conduct searches based off of the real world using a camera. While it’s only in the early stages, this type of technology will be extremely important as the line between the real world and the digital one comes one step closer.
Pro Tip: You can do a domain image search to find out what keywords images on your site are being ranked for.
Updating your content strategy in 2018 will help you stay ahead of your competition and will help you remain a dominant, relevant force when it comes to your content and SEO goals. Remember the following:
- Producing 10x content will help you provide more value for your readers, while improving your authority within search engines.
- Supporting content strategies with strategic paid media will help ensure your content is seen by the right audience at the right time.
- And optimizing the multimedia on your website will ensure your content is readable by search engines, keeping in mind the power that software like Google Lens can have on users’ search habits.