A prospect unequivocally disagreed with a recommendation I made recently.
I told him a few pages of content could make a significant impact on his site. Even when presented with hard numbers backing up my assertions, he still balked. My ego started gnawing: would a painter tell a mathematician how to do trigonometry?
Unlike art, content marketing and SEO aren’t subjective. The quality of the words you write can be quantified, and they can generate a return for your business.
Most of your content won’t do anything
In order to have this conversation, we really need to deal with this fact.
Most content created lives deep on page 7 of Google, ranking for an obscure keyword completely unrelated to your brand. A lack of scientific (objective math) process is to blame. But more on that later.
Case in point: Brafton used to employ a volume play with regard to content strategy. Volume = keyword rankings. It was spray-and-pray, and it worked.
Looking back on current performance for old articles, we find that the top 100 pages of our site (1.2% of all indexed pages) drive 68% of all organic traffic.
Further, 94.5% of all indexed pages drive five clicks or less from search every three months.
So what gives?
Here’s what has changed: easy content is a thing of the past. Writing content and “using keywords” is a plan destined for a lonely death on page 7 of the search results. The process for creating content needs to be rigorous and heavily supported by data. It needs to start with keyword research.
1. Keyword research:
Select content topics from keywords that are regularly being searched. Search volume implies interest, which guarantees what you are writing about is of interest to your target audience. The keywords you choose also need to be reasonable. Using organic difficulty metrics from Moz or SEMrush will help you determine if you stand a realistic chance of ranking somewhere meaningful.
2. SEO content writing:
Your goal is to get the page you’re writing to rank for the keyword you’re targeting. The days of using a keyword in blog posts and linking to a product landing page are over. One page, one keyword. Therefore, if you want your page to rank for the chosen keyword, that page must be the very best piece of content on the web for that keyword. It needs to be in-depth, covering a wide swath of related topics.
How to project results
Build out your initial list of keyword targets. Filter the list down to the keywords with the optimal combination of search volume, organic difficulty, SERP crowding, and searcher intent. You can use this template as a guide — just make a copy and you’re set.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to top contenders, tally up the total search volume potential — this is the total number of searches that are made on a monthly basis for all your keyword targets. You will not capture this total number of searches. A good rule of thumb is that if you rank, on average, at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 for all keywords, your estimated CTR will be a maximum of 2%. The mid-bottom of page 1 will be around 4%. The top-to-middle of page 1 will be 6%.
In the instance above, if we were to rank poorly, with a 2% CTR for 20 pages, we would drive an additional 42–89 targeted, commercial-intent visitors per month.
The website in question drives an average of 343 organic visitors per month, via a random assortment of keywords from 7,850 indexed pages in Google. At the very worst, 20 pages, or .3% of all pages, would drive 10.9% of all traffic. At best (if the client followed the steps above to a T), the .3% additional pages would drive 43.7% of all traffic!
That’s .3% of a site’s indexed pages driving an additional 77.6% of traffic every. single. month.
How a few pages can make a difference
Up until now, everything we’ve discussed has been hypothetical keyword potential. Fortunately, we have tested this method with 37 core landing pages on our site (.5% of all indexed pages). The result of deploying the method above was 24 of our targeted keywords ranking on page 1, driving an estimated 716 high-intent visitors per month.
That amounts to .5% of all pages driving 7.7% of all traffic. At an average CPC of $12.05 per keyword, the total cost of paying for these keywords would be $8,628 per month.
Our 37 pages (.5% of all pages), which were a one-time investment, drive 7.7% of all traffic at an estimated value of $103,533 yearly.
Can a few pages make or break your website? You bet your butt.