The goal of content is to bring in more traffic, because more traffic should lead to more subscribers and customers. But few people actually increase their organic traffic with their content. What gives?
The problem is that creating content is a lot like eating – it's necessary to survive, but doing it doesn't mean you're doing it well. You can't expect to lose weight on a bad diet, and you won't increase organic traffic with the wrong kind of content.
The solution is simple: Create better content. But how? Below, I'll show you how to create content that actually increases organic traffic.
When your content is relevant to what people search for and easy to consume, people are going to find it. When your content provides answers and solutions to people's questions and problems, you will offer a lot of value. When your content is valuable and easy to find, you'll increase organic traffic.
So how can you do all of that? Just follow these five steps:
1. Learn your audience.
2. Answer their questions.
3. Make it 10x.
4. Optimize for search.
5. Be patient.
Answer your target audience's questions.
Over 6.5 billion online searches happen every day. Your targets are somewhere in the mix, but do you know what they're searching for? Before you can bring in more organic traffic, you have to understand your audience and what they search for.
For instance, people interested in business texting have questions like "how can texts make me money?" We broke it down and saw that people were specifically searching for "SMS lead generation" and "texting for sales."
So we created content on generating leads through SMS and using texts to close more sales. Articles like these answer our targets' questions, bring us more organic traffic and help us convert more viewers.
If you aren't sure what your targets' questions are, here are three ways to find out.
1. Dig into their search history.
Google Trends can help you see how much traffic certain topics get. Type in a few relevant phrases and see what their search volume is. You can also use keyword research tools like AdWords Keyword Planner or SEMrush's keyword research tool.
After you test enough phrases and topics, you'll notice some patterns in what people are searching for. That'll help you know which questions to address in your content (and elsewhere).
2. Read your competitors' blogs.
Competitors could be in the same boat as you, but chances are most of them already know what your targets are looking for. You might be able to skip the learning curve by mimicking them.
What content are they creating? What gets the most interaction? You can also try searching a few terms in BuzzSumo to see which articles get the most shares, and then create content to compete with those.
3. Talk to your customers.
Go to the source! Ask customers what questions they had before, during and after coming in contact with your brand. This can also help you create a content strategy for each stage of the customer journey.
Once you know what questions your targets are asking and what problems they're trying to solve, then you can focus on creating "10x content."
Make all your content 10x.
This tip comes from Rand Fishkin, founder and SEO wizard of Moz. The concept is that you should find the best piece of content out there on your target topic, and then create something 10 times better. If your content is 10 times better than anything else out there, search engines will inevitably list it higher in search results, and your organic traffic will grow.
Note that your content shouldn't necessarily be longer or "more viral" than everything else, but that it should be 10 times more helpful and engaging. As a friend of mine said in an expert roundup, "Virality is not the point; value is."
When your content adds 10 times more value, you'll increase organic traffic. So how do you add more value?
1. Go above and beyond.
To create 10x content, you need to answer your audience's questions in delightfully unexpected and helpful ways.
For example, if you search for "how much do we use our phones," the average article is from a major news source covering a recent study or announcement. The really good content covers a new report and some historical data. They answer the question, but they aren't memorable.
To create something 10 times better, I covered several recent and in-depth studies, gave a historical breakdown, put it all into layman's terms, and gave our audience actionable next steps. I included charts and other helpful imagery. That article now shows up at the top of search results and gets around 15,000 hits a month.
Anyone can achieve similar results (over time) by following this process in your content:
1. State the problem or question.
2. Present available research or opinion.
3. Describe what all of it means.
4. Provide additional resources along the way (images, links, etc.).
5. Give actionable steps.
If you follow this process with all of your content, your organic traffic will start to grow.
2. Make it easy to engage with.
It's important that people stay on your site once they've made it to your content. The more people engage, the more traffic search engines will send you.
So how do you make content that's easy to engage with? How do you keep people scrolling, or get them to click through? It starts with the value you add (how you answer your targets' questions), but your content also has to be easy to consume.
Ann Handley, chief content officer at MarketingProfs, recommends keeping all paragraphs to four lines or fewer – and I'd agree. Shorter paragraphs are easier to consume. The brain digests them more easily. Plus, when you finish a paragraph quickly, you feel accomplished, which encourages you to read the next one, and so on.
It also helps to use these:
- Pictures and GIFS
- Bullet points
- Charts and graphs
- Pull quotes
- Other elements to break up your text
People love things that are new and different. If you include new and different elements throughout your content, viewers will gladly consume more of it.
Another key ingredient is page speed. Forty percent of viewers leave a page if it takes more than three seconds to load, and 53 percent of mobile pages that take more than three seconds to load are abandoned.
If people don't actually make it to your content, it doesn't do you any good. In fact, it can hurt your organic traffic.
3. Optimize for search.
What good is content for organic traffic if it isn't optimized?
People often view SEO as a set of rigid rules by which Google decides to punish or reward your site. In reality, SEO is much more fluid. It's all about creating great experiences for people searching, and "great" usually means being relevant and easy to consume. If you focus on providing valuable information and enjoyable experiences, you'll inevitably optimize your content.
From there, pay attention to other SEO basics, like your meta description, title tags, image tags, keyword variations and how easy your content is to read. These are all opportunities to show search engines (and viewers) how great your content is.
Yoast's SEO plugin for WordPress and the Hemingway app are also great (free) tools to help you craft articles your readers will love. And if people love your content, search engines will send you more traffic.
Should you aim for quality or quantity? The never-ending debate – is it better to create a lot of good content, or a few really great pieces?
Here's the answer: Quality content is what increases organic traffic. The more quality content you have, the more your site will be crawled, and the better you'll do.
If all your content is average, it won't matter how much you create. It will just get lost among the millions of other average pieces of content.
Remember, focus on adding 10 times more value than any other content out there. Your content has to be well above average if you want it to actually increase organic traffic.
It will take some time to see results, but in the end you'll be thankful you focused on quality instead of quantity.
Final step: Be patient.
It usually takes six months to see results between content and traffic. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but results are never instant. It takes time for search engines to index your pages, for people to find your content, and for other content creators to link to it.
That's OK! Stick to your process – creating content that answers your target audience's questions, adds value and is easy to consume. That's how you'll create great content that actually increases organic traffic.