Creative content has always been a part of what companies have done to promote themselves. Until just recently, that effort has been relegated to the paid advertising channel. Realizing that there is nothing new about spending money on creative content can now be applied to the increasingly popular search and social channels.
Content Creation Management
Now that content creation is no longer the function of one person or one department in a company, larger organizations have instituted a content creation management position to oversee how the company story gets told in terms of content, tone, and approach. In the same way that every company has become a pubisher and that social is no longer a siloed department, so has content creation spread out over marketing, public relations, and communications departments.
The need to measure effectiveness and track competitors across all channels has given SEO wings. A practice that got a bad name some years back, SEO is now reemerging as the guidepost for content marketing stratetgy. SEO and the metrics that come with it helps content creators to discover how to improve messages and make them more appealing to target audiences.
The Union of Content and Search
If you aren’t measuring your content, you don’t know why are are doing what you are doing. Given this new environment, perhaps it is time for a new position, that of a Content Ambassador. This person would keep track of competitor data as well as brand data and then communicate across divisions and departments to strategically plan next moves.
Search is the key to best content creation practices. With search, content creators can see how people are finding content and track findability in the organic search environment. By looking at keyword strings and treating keywords more like phrases or topics, content creators can discover what about the content is working. For instance, why is the audience responding to the subject line or the channel. Once the success factors are known, they are easily leveraged to make better content and increase traffic and conversions.
Allocating resources to paid creative content has never been a question for companies, adhering to the adage that it is the enterprising spider that spins its web on the doorway of the company that doesn’t advertise. Advertising is an easy sell and using analytics to prove its worth has been a common practice. The challenge now is to apply those same principals to content. While both content and SEO have been viewed by some as “free” services, the enterprising SEO consultant will tell you that they are anything but free. While it is true that Google Analytics is a free tool and there are other free tools on the market, brands are not benefitting from SEO as they should if they are only seeing the number of visitors to a web page every week. Content is not a separate entity for search and they both need to be funded if they are to be successful.
The truth is that the companies that are creating disruption in their markets and successfully taking the lead are very good at organic search. They know that they must spend the money on search if they want to dominate their vertical.
What Road Leads Traffic To Your Site?
Free tools can tell you how many people have visited your site over a period of time. What you won’t know is where that traffic originated. In most marketing, public relations, and communications mixes there are several answers to that question and can include:
- Paid Search
- Email Campaigns
- Organic Search
When it is time to create the budget, how do content and SEO professionals get a percentage of the pie and what percentage can be allocated to search? Although budget allocations are core drivers of any company, brands need to view marketing and content as a conversation. To start with, companies should invest in the areas where they are already successful. Insights into traffic and interaction on specific channels can help executives to see where traffic is being generated with current efforts to ensure funds are allocated to continue those efforts.
Don’t Spread Your Resources Too Thin
While throwing all your resources into one bucket, such as Email marketing campaigns or paid advertising will not grow your audience share, spreading resources over every channel and every type of content will not give you traction on any effort. Create a balance. Do more or what you are good at and look at what opportunities you may be missing out on. Keep track of your competitors and what channels they are using. Consider expanding into those channels to recover missed opportunities.
By using a daily tracking tool, you will be able to watch your results over a few weeks or months and really understand the impact changes have made on your findability and KPIs.
Track Daily, Adjust Weekly or Monthly
Tracking content and keywords on a daily basis may seem like an overwhelming task. Using a tool that tracks daily does not mean that you should be adjusting content or channels based on that data. What it does mean is that when you look at your results after a week, you will see the trends and events that have conspired to create your end of week results. Without a daily tracking result, you will only see one data point every seven days, and four data points in a month. Daily tracking provides seven data points a week and thirty a month, allowing brands to see their results at a granular level and compare results against recent algorithm changes or movement by competitors.
Four samples over a month amounts to a random sampling of data that cannot effectively inform actionable next steps. The purpose of measuring results is to inform decisions for logical optimization or better content creation and distribution. Decisions must be made with the entire ecosystem in mind and not a reaction based on one data point, or four.
SEO Reporting and Recommendations
There is nothing new about SEO reporting. In fact, it may be part of the reason that SEO has gotten a bad rap. To redeem its value and place in the strategic marketing mix, resourceful SEO consultants and platforms have integrated recommendations into the reporting aspect of search measurement. To make the data more relevant, some action items may include recommendations for:
- Keywords to guide content creation
- Competitive content creation successes
- Recommendations to improve content
- Customer needs/searches
- Areas to provide advice/guidance to your audience
With Google changing their algorithms all the time, it is easy to get excited about a sudden spike or panicked about a sudden drop. The key is to watch trends over time and to make recommendations knowing the daily fluctuations and the overall weekly, monthly, or quarterly picture.