It’s a given these days that marketers recognize the importance of content creation and mapping to ensure that they can be relevant throughout a consumer’s journey of discovery to purchase. Tools can help predict the return on investment for achieving a certain level of visibility of new content against specific keyword targets. However, not enough attention is given to figuring out how long it will take for new content to actually earn value, specifically backlinks and social metrics.
In this Q&A, Ryan Pitcheralle, VP of the Digital Center of Excellence at Acronym, explains how setting expectations for the time it will take for new content to gain desired visibility should be a major component of content strategy from the outset. And how failing to do so could lead to giving up prematurely and ceding the game to your competitors.
Q: So it’s not enough to simply fill content gaps on your website that you’ve identified as opportunities?
A: Not it’s not. The big question is how practical is it to actually gain the visibility that you’re seeking. Everyone is playing the prediction game when it comes to creating new content.
Q: What kinds of metrics should we be considering?
A: Content has a set of performance metrics like referral visits, page views, time on site, etc. But content that gets rewarded with visibility in the SERPs has a different set of metrics associated with it. Chief among them are links and social signals. They are the non-negotiables when it comes to the reward of top visibility spots in search.
Q: What are some of the common steps to take when introducing new website content?
A: As new content goes live, you should go through a series of on-page optimization, a lot of that being meta honed toward your target keywords. You also want to interlink the new content throughout your website and make sure the most important pages are pushing or connected to these pages in a way. Orient your category structure to facilitate pages to users at appropriate times in their journeys if they were to enter on your site from the more common pages, the home page being one. All of these things are going to signal that these new pages are a major components of the website.
Q: How do you figure out how long it will take for new content to earn visibility?
A: You can back into it. For example the number of back links. Compared to the top ranking result, you have a pretty good idea of how many back links you’re going to need to achieve to be rewarded with similar visibility or to trump that visibility.
Q: What about quality versus quantity of links?
A: You want to have a lot of healthy referring domains instead of one site linking to you thousands of times. Referring domains represent the diversity of your link profile, so to speak. To earn signals, you must use social promotion. If people find your content resourceful they will tell a friend. If they tell a friend, you are going to generate both link metrics and social metrics.
Q: How do you measure expectations with regard to new content?
A: Let’s say we introduced new content in January and now it’s March and we now have 13 backlinks and the top result had 113. We know it could take us another year at our current rate of earning links to overcome the top result. So as your content earns these signals, start the stop watch. After a set period of time you can project the rate at which the content earns signals during a time frame. From there you can make a ratio to the top content example and have a pretty god idea of when you can expect your content to become equally competitive to the target.
Q: Why is it so important to take this into consideration at the very beginning?
A: SEO is slow and takes time. When it’s natural it moves even slower. You don’t want to say, “We didn’t get the visibility we wanted, our content program didn’t work, so let’s scrap that idea.” You will take a major step back in terms of being competitive. The better way is to create a content program and strategy that includes practical expectations of exactly what you’re up against at the very start.
Q: In some vertical industries, hospitality being one, middlemen have a baked in advantage when it comes to creating content that gains visibility. How can individual hospitality properties compete against the likes of online travel agencies?
A: The OTA’s have done a great job of ranking because they are very robust in the way they target keywords specific to the niche. They have the unique advantage of being able to present content with options and are more oriented to the list form of content people seek. For example, Best Activities to do in Florida or Best Beaches in Maui. That’s the kind of content that the OTA’s have in spades and they have been earning content metrics against that content and putting a tremendous amount of eyeballs in front of it.
Q: So how does one effectively compete against them?
A: You need to be really special if you’re not providing options, because you are biased toward yourself. Understanding that going in will help form your content strategy. Look to find out what they aren’t doing well and try to fill that part of the gap. They can’t cover all of it. Opportunity identification is so important. While they are very robust in content, there are trends that we could identify just as quickly as the OTAs and if you beat them to market you will get a first mover advantage.