Everybody wants maximum growth out of their content marketing efforts, but not everyone knows how to get those types of results. Sure, tweeting blog posts and emailing relevant resources as part of an outreach campaign are good first steps to getting some traction and exposure. But there's much more you can do to unlock exponential growth opportunities for your content.
Here are seven growth hacks I leverage every day to get the content I publish to drive even more traffic, reach even more users, and get even more prospects into the sales funnel. And so can you.
1. Freshen Up Your Content
We see every day that Google gives more weight to fresher content. Content that gets updated tends to perform better in the organic SERPs than dormant content. If you look at it from a user perspective, older information is often seen as outdated, potentially less accurate or irrelevant, and can be perceived as having less value.
I recommend routinely updating any content on your site that:
- Drives conversions. If you have goal-tracking set up in Google Analytics (GA), look at Behavior>Site Content>Landing Pages, filter by Organic Traffic and check page-level goal completions.
- Drives qualified visits. This refers to any content that's core to your business and/or fulfills KPIs you're measuring, in addition to conversions, such as engagement metrics or even raw traffic numbers.
- Has lost traffic. In GA, use the "compare to" feature. Pick a date range from the previous year to compare to this year's traffic, and locate pages that have lost traffic over time.
Here are some tips for freshening up this content:
- Add an "updated" field. Most blog posts have a published date. Change that field to "last updated" to keep it looking timely. Or, you can physically add in a "last updated" line of text in the body copy somewhere on the page.
- Omit dates in your file paths. If you're starting a new blog or reconfiguring your site, omit dates from your URL file path schemes. Don't intentionally date your content if you don't have to.
- Reuse annual posts. If you publish annual resource posts, like the "Most Popular [X Product] of 2012," don't start from scratch with a new page each year. Keep the same file/URL and rework the content instead. Leverage the trust and authority that page has already accrued, and don't put dates in the file name. Date the post title and title tag instead. Both can be updated.
If you're skeptical about the impact of freshness, follow the above recommendations, update 10 posts on your site that have lost traffic recently, and see what happens.
2. Promote Other People's Work
A great way to amplify the reach of your content is to promote the work and the wisdom of others. Including the thoughts or writings - or even the products - of others in your content adds a layer of "built-in distribution." Anyone featured in your content is incentivized to help share it because promoting your content, they're promoting themselves, too.
You can feature others in your content by:
- Including a quote. This can be a quote you get directly from the source or one you pull from something they've already written, even if it's a simple Tweet. Just make sure to cite the source.
- Running a solo or group interview. I've recently contributed to group interviews here, here and here. I've shared those articles on social and now I'm linking back to them. See how that works?
- Linking out. If there are key industry thought leaders, influencers or bloggers you're targeting, regularly include links to anything they've published, be it an article, an eBook, or their blog.
Make sure you let the person, website or company know that you've featured them on your site. Shoot them an email or a Tweet to get on their radar. Compliment them, but don't explicitly beg for anything in return. Let the reciprocation happen naturally.
You'd be surprised how effective this technique is for increasing the reach of your content. What's more, if you're active in nurturing these relationships, it can lead to even more growth opportunities.
3. Buy Some Traffic
One surefire way to get more traffic to your content is to set up a paid campaign on StumbleUpon. You can also buy paid placement on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (more info here), but I find StumbleUpon to deliver the most predictable results, and be the easiest to work with.
StumbleUpon can generate instant exposure for your content at scale, and quickly: you can launch a new campaign - which has a range of audience targeting options - in 30 seconds. You can plug in your URL and go, without creating and testing ad copy, and "engaged visitors" only cost 15 cents.
The flipside to buying traffic is that you're not "earning" it by actively building relationships and a community. So the traffic is generally of lower value and engagement scores aren't ideal, with less time spent on the site, high bounce rates, and no deeper visits. What's more, once the budget runs out, the traffic does, too.
However, those critiques don't negate the power of using paid discovery as a tool to amplify exposure and distribution opportunities for your content. This is particularly true for new sites or publications that haven't built an audience yet.
4. Go Local
Including a regional or local angle in your content lets you harness the awesome power of parochialism. People enthusiastically share and distribute content that touts their city, town or state as "tops" or "best" at something, even if the source is dubious.
These lists serve as a point of pride for residents and reinforce their decision to live in a particular area. They're effective click bait because they pique our curiosity. What parent doesn't want to know if their child's school made the list of "top public schools" in their state?
Examples of content with a regional angle include the most Googled brands in each state and a Business Insider feature on New England slang. When it comes to promotion, target local journalists and radio station websites. They frequently feature this type of content, so it's a perfect angle to pitch when doing outreach. You can buy ads on Facebook and leverage geo-targeting, as well.
Localism works even for the most obscure niches. No matter how boring your industry, you can still find ways to work in a regional angle to appeal to a local audience.
5. Recirculate Older Content
Most content has a relatively short lifecycle. It gets published and promoted, and then disappears into the dark archival abyss as new content gets rolled out. It's rare for older content to get recirculated and re-shared, which is a major missed opportunity for getting maximum value out of your content assets.
If content is successful, you should continue to share it even if weeks or months old, so you can:
- Reaching new audiences. The average lifespan of a tweeted link is 18 minutes, so only a small segment of your followers have seen it. And it's very unlikely any new followers have seen it, either. If you're worried that you'll annoy your audience, don't be.
- Getting more traffic. Recirculating content on your social channels and re-shares from your audience helps drive new visits to older content pieces.
- Boosting ranking signals. Page-level signals like links, shares and brand mentions boost organic rankings, either directly or indirectly. If your older content is collecting dust, there's zero chance of getting more signal to these key pages. Re-sharing them renews this opportunity.
For content to recirculate, I recommend you target anything that's already been successful, such as articles with high share counts; high engagement metrics, such as pages-per-visit and time spent on page; and a lot of comments. Finally, if you're like me and you aim to scale your efforts, set your social recirculation efforts on autopilot.
6. Publish on Popular Topics
One sure-fire way to drive more qualified traffic to your site is to target popular topics. Audiences have already demonstrated that they want and value this type of information.
To find popular topics, you can leverage keyword tools (here's a great list); look at competitor content that's already generated a high degree of engagement; pull an internal site search report in Google Analytics and audit your existing content to see what people are searching for and engaging with. There's also a range of sources I detailed in a previous column.
7. Amplify Your Referred Visits
Referred traffic, or traffic sent to your site from other domains, is one of the most overlooked segments of traffic. In many cases, referral traffic can comprise a sizeable percentage of your visits, as well as generate leads and conversions.
Wouldn't it be great if you could increase the amount traffic these referrers are sending to your site? You can. Here's how.
- Start by gathering a list of top referrers to your site from your analytics report. Make sure to drill down and determine the specific URL/page on that site is sending the traffic.
- Drop those URLs in a tool like SEM Rush and discover which keywords that page ranks for, and which of those terms yield the most traffic to help inform anchor text strategy.
- Build links to that page to help it rank higher for the traffic-generating terms you pulled in the previous step.
When building these links, be cautious. If you're too aggressive, you risk getting the page dinged by Google's Penguin algorithm. Not only will this kill the stream of referred traffic to your site, but it would hurt the domain for the site you're targeting.
Resist the urge to fire hundreds of commercial anchor links to the page, using an automated backlink generation tool.
Instead, try the following approaches:
- Add links in contributed content. If you write for other sites, try to work in a link (naturally) to the page. If you don't have contributor gigs, then line some up.
- Add links from your own site. You can also link over to pages on the referrer's site from your own sites. Again, link naturally and when using anchors, use caution. Branded anchors, mixed commercial anchors, hyperlinked URLs or prop words are the safest plays.
- Promote on social. Actively share high-value referrer pages across social media. Links from Twitter are nofollow and don't count, but exposing this content to your audience increases the chances it will get linked to.
By building links, you can improve the visibility for that referrer's page in the organic SERPs. This leads to more traffic to that page, which, in turn, increases the potential for more referred visits to your site.By Ken Lyons