2018 is well underway, and implementation of your editorial calendar should be in full swing. Take a well-earned moment to a step back and gaze proudly on what you’ve accomplished so far this year, but now it’s time to plug ahead as you continue to deploy and optimize your content marketing strategy for the rest of Q1 and beyond.
As you do this, here are three key strategic considerations to manage your visibility, traffic and engagement — all of which will have a powerful top-right impact on your volume of top-of-funnel or marketing-qualified leads.
Know the Reality of SEO Today
Accept it: If your website is not in position three or higher in a Google search engine results page (SERP), it’s not really being seen at all. Those highly coveted top positions can be extraordinarily difficult to rank for, especially in a competitive market. People are less likely than ever to scroll down or move past the first page of search results, and without the right SEO, your organic prospects will sink as low as your page rankings..
Fortunately, you have options. Consider position zero, or the featured snippet. These are the direct answers you see at the top of SERPs in response to some queries. Here’s an example:
The featured snippet is that answer to the queried question “How does curling work?” To rank for a featured snippet, infuse a clear answer to a query Google might wish to answer in your on-page content. Note that the featured snippet can pull in many different content types, so consider using a rich media component in your answer to help draw the attention of Googlebot. There are plenty of search result types to explore — such as the enriched search result and Knowledge Graph result.
Kick the Tires — Then Kick ‘Em Again!
Don’t view your editorial calendar as set in stone. Of course, you want some key stakes in the ground — whether those are large pieces of anchor content focused on themes central to your business that you’ll build campaigns around or whether they’re hefty seasonal investments in paid media. But remember to be flexible and willing to adjust, revise and realign your content strategy as needed based on performance. For instance, don’t simply assume that because Google Trends shows a term you are hoping to rank for is on a relevancy upswing in March that it still will be in April.
Double-check the keyword phrases that you’re trying to rank for using several tools. I recommend a mix of AdWords, Moz, or BuzzSumo to give you the most accurate picture of how competitive or expensive a phrase ranking may be.
Try to think outside the box when selecting keyword targets. One suggestion: look at what your site is already ranking for or what might be driving traffic to your site that may be unexpected or unusual. Instead of throwing buckets of money behind a phrase you think you should be ranking for, see if there’s lower hanging fruit to chase — perhaps phrases you might already be ranking for that you don’t have to fight as hard for traction on.
Also, don’t rely on short keywords to drive traffic to your site. Long tail keywords will still deliver the most qualified traffic, even if it’s a smaller number of hits overall.
Great Content is Still Queen…and Give the People What They Want!
Whether paid or organic, great content still rules the day when it comes to search visibility and driving qualified traffic to your site.
Go through your pre-publishing checklist before you post a piece of content — don’t skip this step. Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine Land and Neil Patel’s blog all provide excellent resources to help you plan, build, deploy and optimize an omni-channel content marketing effort.
Important: Learn what type of content your audience is engaging with most, and build your calendar around that. Start by simply reviewing which blog posts or pages of your site are receiving the most traffic, or which people tend to stay on the longest, for an initial window of visibility into what content is most compelling. If it’s not broken…don’t fix it.
Finally, don’t ever forget to pay at least as much attention to how you’re promoting your content (a key to attracting inbound links) as you are to the content itself. If you aren’t yet using a management tool like Sprout Social or Sprinklr to coordinate, manage, and track social promotion performance, I would highly recommend exploring one.
PS: You’re not alone in this. We’d love to hear from you about the visibility challenges you’re facing — and chat about how we can help turn your business challenges into opportunities!