Did you get the memo? With Google’s increased focus on content freshness and other social-laced algorithmic updates, marketers already keen on blogging and other recurrent content strategies have a definite leg up. But how far do SEOs need to go and at how great a cost for what results?
What results can churn-and-burn-puppy-mill SEO-laced assembly content attain? Are there advantages to going “high-end” and really making an ongoing content investment, and how might that affect results? Sure, we all know the objectives are to drive traffic, earn links, generate social signals, compel & motivate conversion… but what results are reasonably attainable for which types of content? Why are you looking at me as if I am speaking French?
Continuum Of Content Success
First, why do we create content, anyway? What are the ultimate objectives and how do we measure success? Here, marketers would say that content is successful when:
- Customers and potential customers are provided with valuable insights to demystify processes, lend perspective, solve problems, stimulate interest; pique emotions and serve needs. First and foremost, the objective is to serve and delight. Arguably, all results stem from this precept.
- Posts yield short-term concept-centric social media traffic to a businesses main website, social profiles (like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube). Social broadcast and rebroadcast results in surfacing the business website and social media profiles’ visibility in universal organic SERPs.
- Posts earn links on relevant anchor text that drive direct traffic and boost pages and profiles in organic SERPs, thereby driving long-term traffic. Links are not as important as they were before, but they are still essential to ranking algorithms.
- Associated traffic results in KPI conversions, which might include direct response, friendship, subscriptions, branding, other goals or whatever the KPI may be. At the end of the day, this is all about selling stuff.
- Posts spawn engagement and friendships for later remarketing, that is to say users are inspired to become friends to whom we can remarket to later. Friendship is like branding. Today’s branding is tomorrow’s conversion.
Various Levels Of Content Investment
Not every piece of content is link bait on a grand scale and not all content SEO is about home runs. In fact, sometimes link/social bait “happens” with a lower investment of time on an incredible idea. More often, great bait takes lot of research, can require cool graphics, lots of time other resources and production.
It’s prudent to budget the content mix investment, ranging between “good” quality content and truly outstanding link bait that requires a more serious investment of resources and time. You never totally know what will win, but as the saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Whatever mix of content you settle on for the results you seek, it’s best to work from an editorial calendar. Each month, schedule the amount of time available for research, writing, vetting images, etc. Then, allocate those hours across a healthy array of investment in posts.
We typically advise clients to budget time for a mix of high-investment “Link-Bait” and solid production grade “SEO/Social Content.” Here’s a high-level list of a handful of content varieties to consider, or not. We’ve separated them by how much time investment it takes on overage for each grade and expected results. The following table is, of course, an over simplification but we think you’ll get the picture.
|Content Type||Investment||Characteristics||Most Likely Results||Reasonably Possible Results||Longer Shot Possible Results|
|Puppy Mill Spew||Second-rate “SEO” copywriters spend 1-2 hours; “posts” are often sold by the word or page for very low $. Be careful that the content you purchase is not published somewhere else or only slightly rewritten.||Boring KW-stuffed headlines and body copy, no built-in engagement, might benefit users to some extent, makes site owners feel good. This is digital bird cage liner, spewed from puppy mill spam farms, banal stock art. Yep, this is second tier college student level writing at best.||
Little or nothing happens, in terms of SEO or engagement.
|Some SEO prominence for non-competitive KWs, poor quality links from low quality websites and link farms. Sadly, puppy mill content still works over the long haul, though search engines have been minimizing the effectiveness for years.||Google shuts down the page and/or site in its never-ending quest to clean up the index. Woof!|
|SEO & Social Objective Daily Post||Mid-level writers spend 2-3 hours writing and “optimizing” the post, which means there is slight, but somewhat tasteful KW stuffing.||Some seat-of-the-pants research focused on KWs, use of KWs is as important as style of substance. Several boring/decent images, this type of content day after day lends semantic depth to the website.||SEO prominence for non-competitive KWs, poor quality links from medium-rare quality websites that are actually interested, minimal broadcast and rebroadcast seeded by profiles you own.||Slight buzz, some broadcast and rebroadcast from your fans, very few lower quality links, some organic prominence, slight pickup of followers.||Moderate buzz, some broadcast from your fans, a few moderate quality links, some organic prominence, slight pickup of followers.|
|SEO & Social Feature Post||Experience bloggers spend 4-8 hours, posts can range from fun to informative to highly actionable.||Substantial research, inherently viral by nature (citations and other mechanisms), great headlines, valuable content, compelling images, unique perspective from thought leaders.||SEO prominence for moderately-competitive KWs, some second tier links and 1 or 2 good quality links from mid to high quality trade and enthusiast websites that are actually interested, moderate broadcast and rebroadcast seeded by friends and users you don’t know.||Moderate buzz, some broadcast from your fans, a few moderate quality links, some organic prominence, slight pickup of followers.||Moderate buzz, limited rebroadcast outside your normal community, a few quality links links, some organic prominence, slight pickup of followers.|
|Guerrilla (Fast Turnaround) Linkbait||Experienced bloggers creating “convention” posts that are inherently viral (like link roundups, reviews, conference coverage, etc.…) or throwing other brilliant stream of consciousness spaghetti at the wall.||Stream of consciousness attitude, as simple as single image, hand drawn infographic or incredibly hot breaking news story, intensely compelling headline, blazing hot topic.||
Moderate buzz, & rebroadcast outside your normal community, a few quality links, some organic prominence, slight pickup of followers.
|Better than average viral broadcast and rebroadcast in a number of channels, 1 or 2 great links and a handful of mid-level links, organic prominence from social channels and for the site that houses the content.||
Extraordinary volume of of viral broadcast and rebroadcast in a number of channels, citations in mainstream media channels like newspapers and television, hundreds of great links and thousands of mid-level links, permanent organic prominence from social channels and for the site that houses the content and the mainstream citations.
|High Investment Linkbait||Experienced bloggers spend days, often utilizing a team including researchers, graphic artists and other creative/business input.||Intensive research, complex inforgraphics, groundbreaking analysis, extremely compelling images, polished approach, perfect for the target, massively viral by concept and brilliant ideas. Great linkbait takes a lot of time, days or even weeks of thought and production.||Better than average viral broadcast and rebroadcast in a number of channels, 1 or 2 great links and a handful of mid-level links, organic prominence from social channels and for the site that houses the content.||Lots of viral broadcast and rebroadcast in a number of channels, Several great links and many mid level links, organic prominence from social channels and for the site that houses the content, spontaneous conversations flare up.|
Of course, there are many other types of content out there at various levels of investment. To name a few:
Serialized vanity bait conventions, such as link roundups, ping mid-authority bloggers and often yield social broadcast and engagement. Content that results reputation alerts being sent, to those you link to and cite, are inherently viral and can often be quickly created to good results. The “Weekly This” or The “Monthly That” can lend a tone of credibility and longevity to a content strategy. This is especially effective when you cite people and publications systemically by saying their names or linking to their work. One of my favorite examples is SearchEngineLand’s “Daily Search Cap,” curated by Matt McGee and Barry Schwartz.
Rewritten press releases can introduce a social spin to repurposed content in social channels and leverage work-in-the-can. There is usually a human side to even the most technical of industrial offerings. Find it.
Publish news with an editorial spin that adds value when you’ve got something important to say. Summarize, put things in easy terms, or elucidate to enhance your readers’ understanding of an important news item. The news may not still be brand new, but your insights are evergreen.
Be a curator. Call it what you want, “custodian,” “keeper,” “steward,” “guardian” or “overseer,” curating is about the adding value to content by how its aggregated. Create lists and aggregate resources to make the whole greater than the sum of parts.
With Google’s swollen emphasis on fresh content and other social signals, marketers already dedicated to quality content have a definite advantage. However, it’s never too late for recurrent content. It’s important to invest enough sources to reach the goal, without over-investing. As such, an informed content mix is advisable. Take time to consider what types of content can yield various result-sets and budget accordingly.