Let Me Ask You a Question…
- Site A has 5 pages of quality content
- And Site B has 5,000 pages of quality content
Which one will get more traffic?
Well, the short answer (ignoring any number of potential variables) is Site B.
It’s simply because more quality content means:
- More links from other sites.
- More of your pages being shared on Twitter and Facebook.
- More traffic through the search engines.
- More repeat visitors.
- People spending longer on your site.
Simply put – a site with more quality pages is a much stronger resource than a site with less pages, and in the vast majority of cases this leads to more traffic.
But a lot of this is what I’ve already touched on in a previous post, so let’s get to the meat of this particular post:
From Zero to Ten Thousand Visitors a Month (in Just Under Six Months)
Okay ‘zero’ is a slight exaggeration. The site was getting maybe five or ten visitors a day. But then it took off, and kept taking off. Here’s how the traffic stats look at the end of December 2012:
And as I write this the site continues to hold steady at 250 – 350 visitors a day, with no new work being done (although new blog posts, and new links could help increase these traffic levels many times over, and relatively quickly).
Now please note I’m not going to reveal this site as that’s private to a client, but I was managing every aspect of the content creation and link building for the site, and that client now owns a site getting over 100,000 visitors a year, and that’s just the start of this site’s potential. Top sites in this market easily bring in 50,000 visitors a month (as a low estimate).
Right now, for the site in this example the majority of traffic (around 85%) does come through Google, which is always a somewhat unreliable business model to depend upon, but it’s worth nothing that these continued traffic increases came during the multiple Penguin updates, when tens of thousands of sites pretty much disappeared off the map (dropping from top 10 to number 1,000 in the results almost overnight).
One reason for this is with this particular site I played it particularly safe. With a real focus on high quality content on the site, regularly adding new content to the site, and working to only get quality links that would stand the test of time.
Now, doing things in this way is very time consuming and a lot of work, but it can pay off significantly, and as much as is possible can help a site ride out the ongoing algorithmic updates.
Of course I can’t pretend to predict the future and Google’s whims in one or two years, which is another reason for avoiding depending just on traffic through the search engines – at the very least the site in question should start building an email list as soon as possible:
Even a 5% opt in rate would add around 500 subscribers a month, and honestly 5% is quite a low figure depending how the opt-in is presented. I’ve seen some sites that easily convert 20% of visitors or more into email subscribers which in this example would grow an email list of around 24,000 in a year (obviously ignoring variations in traffic levels, people unsubscribing…etc).
The Point of This Post
Quality link building is of course very important for growing traffic, but this particular post is all about content.
Creating content that attracts traffic to your site is often known as Inbound Marketing as it helps attract traffic to you through the search engines, through links, and through social sharing, compared to spending money on advertising for example, which is in turn referred to in some cases as Outbound Marketing (and also sometimes as Interruption Marketing).
And quality content over time can also help make your site an authority in your market that often gets referenced and linked to by others, and when you reach that point your traffic levels, and business can grow many times over, and actually make your search engine placements much more difficult to dislodge.
That said, you don’t have to be the next Wikipedia. 50 pages is a great starting point and should be enough for you to start seeing results, and then regularly adding new quality content can help your traffic levels, and business, to keep growing.
And again – as I very often mention aim for longer rather than shorter posts, with 1,000 words or more per post a good figure to keep in mind.
So what I’m going to particularly focus on in this post is how I researched the content for the site in question, planned it, created it, and what I kept in mind during this entire process. Whereas in a future post I’ll spend more time talking through the link building side of this case study.
Research and Planning for Content Creation
First things first, it helps to know your market.
If you’re already in the market, you should generally have a good understanding of your potential visitors/customers, what they’re interested in, the problems they’re looking to solve, the current hot topics in the market, the evergreen topics in the market…etc.
Or if you’re moving into a new market, the time spent getting to know your market is time very well spent, as work attracting the wrong segment of your market for example could end up being a complete waste of time.
So getting to know your market could simply involve spending time reading forums, reading blogs, reading magazines, visiting competitor websites, speaking with people already in the market…
All this work will help you:
- Plan content, and your site’s future.
- Write content (if you’re going to be doing any of the writing yourself).
- Understand the potential of the market, and so help you to prioritize how much time to spend on this project, compared to everything else you’ve got going on in your business.
Next generally comes keyword research. A great starting point is the Google Keyword Tool in which you can enter a root keyword (often a broad and high traffic keyword relevant to your market – for example: car insurance) to bring up a lot of other related keywords.
You can then use these related keywords to grow the list into the thousands quickly by entering those into the keyword tool as well, plus this keyword tool also allows you to ‘scrape’ keyword suggestions from competitor websites.
Just using the tool in this way can build a huge list quickly. You can then arrange this data in Excel to make sorting columns easy, and then delete duplicate rows.
There’s also plenty of other keyword tools including:
Then once you’ve built a huge list up, rather than the old way of writing every blog post around one single keyword (which can end up with very similar content across your site, and frankly is a rather old fashioned way of doing things), group similar keywords together, for example:
- car insurance
- car insurance online
- research car insurance
- find cheapest car insurance
You could potentially write a post around every single similar keyword, but as mentioned your blog will start becoming very repetitive which could turn off visitors, and even the search engines.
I’ve found it works well to often group such related terms together into a single post, and the more terms you’re bundling together and the more competitive they are, the more in depth the blog post should be, up to potentially many thousands of words in length. Even tens of thousands.
Bundling related keywords together in this way helps to make your text natural sounding, since you almost automatically use multiple variations and related terms of the keyword. This also helps to avoid the old practice of thinking about keyword density (“I must use my keyword exactly 3.5% throughout this article!”).
But that said, for really competitive keywords (again, like: car insurance) where there’s plenty you can talk about, creating more than one in depth blog post (as long as the content is unique, high quality, and stands by itself), might be a good idea, since you can’t really guarantee which blog post or article on your site will get the most attention from readers, and from the search engines. And as long as every post stands by itself, and isn’t just a regurgitated version of another article on your site, every such article is another fishing hook cast into the lake that is Google, so to speak.
This is one of the main reasons more content is better than less content – you naturally cover a lot more keywords. Plus there’s always the chance one of your articles will go viral, and each new article or blog post increases those chances.
But one point to bear in mind regarding this – since the title tag contents (what’s between the <title>…</title> tags in your page code) is incredibly important for giving context to the search engines, you’ll want your most important keywords to be in the title tag, and if you’ve bundled 20 related keywords into one in depth article, you might have to make a hard decision about which to prioritize in the title tag (usually the one with the highest traffic). So this in fact is an argument for not bundling too many keywords into a single post. Really, this is more art than science, so you’ll find your own style with this process.
Moving From Planning to Writing…
So by now, you should have a huge spreadsheet with thousands of relevant keywords, and you may have sorted this spreadsheet by either traffic levels or alphabetically.
Then choose one shorter keyword to get the ball rolling, and then search for that keyword throughout your spreadsheet. You’ll likely find a few, or even dozens of related versions of it, for example:
- buy a strimmer
- garden strimmers
- garden trimmer
- buy petrol strimmer
- best buy grass strimmer
- cordless strimmer
- petrol strimmer reviews
- best buy petrol strimmers
And there’s well over a hundred similar keywords that Google returns when you type in ‘buy a strimmer’. Again, if you created a page around each individual term, your blog would become very boring very quickly, so here’s a few ideas for grouping keywords together from the list above:
Keyword Bundle 1: buy a strimmer, garden strimmer
Article Title 1: Looking to Buy a Garden Strimmer? Here’s What You Need to Know…
Keyword Bundle 2: buy petrol strimmer, petrol strimmer reviews, best buy petrol strimmers
Article Title 2: Looking For a Petrol Strimmer? You Need to See These Reviews…
As you can see it’s often difficult to cover every single variation in the title without it reading strangely, so focus on the most trafficked of the keywords from the ones you’re grouping together, and ones you’re not able to include in the title they’ll generally end up naturally (or very easily) as part of the main content, without sounding forced.
Then once you’ve exhausted your entire keyword list, either get more keywords, or create more articles around the highest traffic keywords, or simply around keywords you’d like more traffic from. And as you go through this entire process, always be on the lookout for what’s new in your market, what the hot topics and hot products are… and make a note of this so you can keep adding to your keyword list as on ongoing basis.
Okay, so you can either go through your entire keyword list and group keywords together at the start, or just do that as you get ready to write each article.
Here’s the process I take:
- Research keywords.
- Organize keywords into spreadsheet.
- Group keywords for first article.
- Come up with article title, suggested length and also article synopsis (if necessary, not generally required for short articles of 500 words or so).
- Repeat step 3 and 4 until you’ve enough articles planned to get the ball rolling.
- Then either get writing, or outsource the writing.
- Publish articles as they’re finalized (or schedule for later), and then repeat this process for as long as you want to keep adding new content to your site.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to create every blog post around a set of keywords, you can if you like just write around any relevant or hot topic you want, but structuring a good amount, if not the majority of your blog posts around keywords while still keeping the content interesting and the article titles punchy, helps set your site up for traffic through the search engines, every step of the way.