Content is the foundation of an effective website in that it sets the tone in all areas of your online presence. The website is simply a platform. Content is your message that not only connects with your audience but also communicates with Google.
This isn’t news but is an often undervalued aspect of building a website. Just because there are words on a page doesn’t mean that anyone will read it or that Google will even rank you. Google’s mission statement has stressed the importance of content since they opened their doors in 1998:
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our company has packed a lot into a relatively young life. Since Google was founded in 1998, we’ve grown to serve millions of people around the world”-google.com/about
Content is what the web is organized around. It’s the only way Google can acknowledge your website as a business and also determine how to rank you. It’s also the most efficient way to build, connect and communicate effectively with your audience. Connecting with your audience will determine whether or not you succeed or fail online as a business.
Great content has always been the focus in Google’s efforts to provide relevant and accurate searches. Instead of thinking of content as just another page, it’s time to start thinking of it as an investment in your business. Great content takes careful planning and strategy and with the emergence and growth of data analytics tools such as Google Analytics, we can measure the effectiveness and improve ROI on the fly. If done correctly, content can not only drive traffic to your website by giving you an immediate boost in SEO, but it can also generate a massive long-term return on investment as the content is organically shared and re-marketed with minimal efforts beyond the initial cost of producing it.
Although the principles outlined in this article apply universally, we are focusing on business ROI. Content is the currency of the internet and just like business, it works around the same principals of supply and demand. Great content creates conversion opportunities by moving your target audience along the marketing funnel while providing valuable business intelligence along the way.
Seo, Social Media, Data and How It All Fits Together
As mentioned earlier in this article, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information while also making it easily accessible to the people searching for it. They organize the world’s information depending on the words on a website and how useful it is to the person reading it. In other words, they organize their results and suggestions by providing the most useful and relevant searches. The best way to do this is by judging the quality of your content.
The entire concept of SEO was born out of a need for websites to not only align with Google’s mission, but also show up when people search using relevant keywords.
While the sheer volume of keywords can help Google decide how to rank you, it’s not the determining factor in SEO anymore. In today’s world, you can position yourself to reap the benefits of search by focusing on user experience (content is a big part of user experience), branding, page speed and security. Google’s algorithm becomes increasingly more difficult to game with each new update and they update their algorithm hundreds of times a year! If you focus on creating content that is useful to your clients, then you’ll soon find that everything else will fall into place.
Measuring the Impact of Content
Lets use one of our own pieces of content, written by our senior front-end developer Ryan Blyth, as an example. This article, called “Hexadecimal To RGBA Conversion With Sass”, was written over two years ago, but still produces significantly for us to this day! Processes and strategy change so rapidly that it’s difficult for documentation to keep up, that is why highly valuable and referenceable pieces get so much attention. In this case, we uncovered a need for the above concepts, wrote about it, and promoted it along the way. It was indexed by Google’s algorithm, shared on social media and discussed in web development communities. We have a unique situation in that technical content like this often ends up being a surprise as to how long it remains relevant. It’s born from hitting a problem and solving it, and sharing how. Some of these problems become ones we don’t have to solve anymore and the content becomes useless, or in this case could end up being something people repeatedly hit as they learn new technologies.
Today, Ryan’s article has more impressions than any other page on our website by a wide margin! Over the last three months, his article has received 41,452 impressions and 580 clicks! An impression is how many times it’s been seen in Google when people search for keywords related to the article.
The article is short and concise. It discusses a topic and effectively gets it’s point across which is among the most important factors Google looks for when deciding how to rank you. Even though it’s only a few hundred words in length it’s also ranking for 424 different keyword variations. Not only will it show up for keywords for people who already know about Sass but it could also show up for people who are trying to learn it.
Now how does this benefit our bottom line? Whoever reads that article will associate this concept with our company. If they have a need for an expert Drupal web developer, or know someone who does, it will increase the likelihood that they will reach out to us over one of our competitors. It also helps us by recruiting more talent and also increases the visibility of our site among the web development community.
So, by focusing on quality before quantity, we were able to boost our rankings in Google and potentially attract new clientele looking for Drupal expertise.
Each social media channel has different audiences that consumes content differently, which means you should be cognizant of formatting it correctly for each and every channel. Social media is a place where you can establish relationships with other influencers or potential clients interested in your products or services by building a community. You can make strong connections with this community by understanding the context of a specific social media ecosystem. By making these connections and funneling relevant traffic to your website, you can also boost your ranking in Google by increasing engagement on your website and creating backlinks. Backlinks are a big part of a larger a voting system Google uses to determine your organic ranking. The more quality backlinks that you have, the higher you’ll rank in search engines.
By creating content worth sharing, you can build an audience and uncover valuable business intelligence along the way. Not only will you build an audience but it will be made up of people who actually care about what you do. When looking at data, it’s easy to forget that this data was produced by actual people reading your content as opposed to an algorithm.
In our case, NEWMEDIA is well known for being a digital agency who specializes in Drupal, and modern solutions like Sass that spans the entire web development community. The article “Hexadecimal To RGBA Conversion With Sass” speaks to the wider web development community but there is more you can discover about your audience by sharing content on social media.
In the interests part of the analytics section on our Twitter, we can see that 93% of our audience is interested in Web Design, 92% in Marketing and 91% in SEO.
This may seem obvious but there is also some not so obvious information. 89% are interested in online gaming, 88% are interested in DJs, 83% are interested in Hip hop and rap and 77% are interested in Tech News!
We can also match up social media data with our Google Analytics data to fill in the gaps to better connect with our clients. This will in turn drive more traffic to your website and potentially boost conversions and revenue.
When Comedy Shows and Musicals Collide
Imagine if you went to Broadway to see a musical but instead, at the very last second, they cancelled the musical and brought out a comedy show? There would be a wide range of emotions from the crowd but most of it would revolve around disappointment, anger and confusion!
While there are some people who can enjoy a musical and a comedy show at one time, most people will be turned off if you advertise one thing and do something completely different. It’s the same with content marketing. Data can help us understand what our audience is interested in so we can connect with them instead of turning them away. It also saves us time from producing content that no one is interested in or willing to read.
The above data says our audience is interested in Web Design, Marketing, DJs, Gaming, Hip-Hop and SEO but do we know how it all fits together? We could easily take the data above and write content about the importance of Web Design and how it positively affects SEO but a lot of websites already do this. Instead of writing a robotic article that’s already been written by others, we could also make references to hip hop or gaming in our content to connect and relate to our audience on a much deeper level. When looking at data it’s very easy to forget that we are actually writing for humans instead of conversions. When writing content for the sake of numbers, it will turn people away making it difficult for anyone to connect with.
The more content you create the more data you’ll have, and the more data you have, the more opportunities to determine what is connecting with your audience. Google has ranking factors that measure the effectiveness of connecting with your audience with your content which is referred to as UX. This is loosely measured using something called “bounce rate” in Google analytics. In our case, our average bounce rate is 55%. In other words, if a 100 people landed on our website, 55 left immediately while 45 clicked over to other web pages. By building a relevant audience through social media you can lower your bounce rate by pushing content out to people who actually care about it.
Different types of content
Content marketing can not only boost your SEO, build an audience and give you relevant business intelligence, it can also create social proof and value in the eyes of your clients. It doesn’t have to be a simple blog post which is about as far as most businesses will go. It can also be a case study that shows how you’ve helped other businesses with similar needs.
We use client case studies to show how we not only take on complex web design and web development problems but also solve them in ways that produce massive improvements in ROI.
One of our most recent case studies referenced our project for the Denver Rescue Mission. Upon completion of their website, donations went up by 25% which resulted in a dollar amount of $175,000 more than the same month the year before!
This case study is a powerful piece of social proof that clients can refer back to when deciding which agency to use to help build and promote their digital presence. It also gives us a boost in rankings by ranking for web design and web development related keywords and gives us something to share on social media to gather more data.
When looking at our Google Analytics dashboard we can also uncover the all around effectiveness of a case study. The average session for someone reading a case study is 5 minutes and 12 seconds! The average session duration across our entire website is 2 minutes 34 seconds. A case study, on average, keeps people on our website twice as long as any of our other content.
When compiling all of this data, you see and understand your audience better. When you understand your audience, you can create content experiences that are useful to them. The only way you can get access to data like this is through steady content creation and promotion. The more content you create, the more data you’ll get and the easier you can connect with the people who matter the most. Each page on your website can be carefully crafted to speak to a specific demographic while also increasing the usefulness of your website in the eyes of Google. Content has always been the most important aspect of your website but Google is only now able to reward businesses for these best practices.