Content is fucking king...seriously

Speak to anyone who knows a thing or two about SEO, 9 out of 10 times they will tell you that “Content is King”. Read any book about online marketing, visit any blog about search and read any article about content marketing, they all convey the same message – great content should be both engaging to users and be relevant to search engines. Here are some of my personal favourite resources that outline the importance of content in SEO:

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you how I managed to help a client of mine achieve great visibility in the SERPs and drive targeted traffic by investing in great quality content and with minimal link building.

Before I start, I had to exclude and hide some of the data/information due to a skin-tight NDA that have with this client. Here it goes…

Introduction

This client of mine is a startup in the ecommerce space, competing in the home *censored* space. They were just starting up and were in the wireframe stages of their website. This was the perfect time for me to get involved, this was the window opportunity for me to get all the SEO goodness on the website. Convinced the client, signed them on and away we go. This was the beginning of July 2012.

SEO Best Practice Was Applied

Like any SEO agency and consultant would do, I did my due diligence and conducted a series of audits and analysis to ensure that the website is moving in the right direction. You know, the usual keyword research, technical audit, information architecture optimisation, etc. I basically used this ecommerce SEO checklist. By the time I was done, I made sure that the website was technically sound, products and pages were properly siloed/categorised and addressed all potential issues for duplicate content. This whole process took about 2.5 weeks, which would have bring us close to the end of July 2012.

Content, Content & More Content

By this stage, I have done all my persona development and keyword mapping to every single category, subcategory and page on the website. I had a clear picture what every page on the website needed to achieve, whom it had to target and what relevant keywords to it should rank for. With all these information ready in an excel template, I met up with the client to run them through and explained to them how we were going to put this into action. These were my content requirements that I recommended:

Type of Page

Number of Words

Placement

Category

150 – 200

Introductory paragraph

Subcategory

150 – 200

Introductory paragraph

Product

300 – 500

Product description, specs, testimonials, reviews

Like any business owner or marketing person they had questions, they had some concerns:

  • How it was going to look like with the current design – This is where wireframes and annotations come in handy. By providing mockups for the client, it will help them visualise the look and feel and from there, the website designer can then bring it to life by working their magic

  • Every page and product needs to have unique content? Are you serious? How much is that going to cost? – This is where I had to do some convincing and encouraged them to invest in copywriting using real life examples of how existing ecommerce players are utilising content

wireframe-example

Once we got through all the hurdles and got everyone on the same page on how we were going to proceed with content production, I provided the client with detailed writing guidelines that they could pass on to their copywriters that they have already engaged. The guidelines were pretty basic, it was basically the excel template that I generated earlier on with keyword mappings plus a few additional points outlining the word count and preferred call-to-actions that can be used. Never once in the guidelines I mentioned anything about SEO or keyword density. I wanted the ensure that the copywriters write content for the users and not for the engines.

I have a saying that I use frequently “The quality of work is only as good as the brief you provide”. Put it simply, if you do not take the time to put together a detailed and specific brief/guideline if you are getting someone else to write your content, you bound to get CRAP back.

Content production took about 3 weeks in total including several iterations and revisions. By the time this entire exercise was done, we were in the middle of August 2012.

Preparing for Launch

By this stage, everything was in order. Content was entered to the website, meta-data were optimised, internal links were optimised and a website launch strategy were in place. We published the website on a staging server for testing. I did a crawl with Screaming Frog just to sanity check that there weren’t any major issues with the website prior to launch.

Due to some budget constraints, we couldn’t do a  HUGE launch strategy. Besides, by this stage, we would have spent most of the investment and dollars on copywriting. All we had plan for were some press releases, social and some blogger outreach (nothing massive).

Finally, we launched the website mid September 2012. Let the monitoring and measurement begin.

Results

Let’s now fast-forward to the end of March 2013, 6 months later…

Here’s how SERP visibility improved since the website launched:

SERP visibility growth

  • We were tracking 100+ non-brand keywords

  • On launch, within a week we had 14 page 1 rankings

  • Position 1 rankings grew by 600% compared to the first benchmark

  • Page 1 rankings grew by 157% compared to the first benchmark

The improvement in SERP visibility, contributed to the increase in traffic:

Organic traffic

  • Organic traffic to the website has been increasing month-on-month since launch

  • Website now generates an average of 5000 visits per month

Before you say anything, here’s organic traffic excluding brand and (not provided):

Organic traffic excluding brand & (not provided)

  • Month-on-month growth

  • Non-brand traffic now accounts for 36% of overall organic traffic

  • Brand traffic accounts for 44% of overall organic traffic

  • (not provided) accounts for 20% of overall organic traffic

Here’s the growth for one of their key head terms:

Traffic growth for key head term

What About Link Building

The purpose of this post is to prove a point that having awesome content F@#$ing works. As mentioned earlier in the post, we had very limited budget to play around, therefore have not done massive amounts of link building. Here’s the proof:

link-metrics

As you can see, these metrics aren’t HUGE, compared to these guys who are also competing in the same vertical:

competitor-link-metrics

Conclusion

Happy Client = Happy Me

I hope that I have provided enough information and data to prove to you that CONTENT IS REALLY F@#$ING KING! I wish I could share more information and show you real life examples of the content. Unfortunately, unless someone wants to pay my legal bills – I am locked into a skin-tight NDA.

Before you dive straight in to producing content for your website, always make sure that you are well informed with data collected from keyword research and persona development. Make sure you do your homework and if you are outsourcing or getting someone else to produce the content for you, take the time and make sure that your brief is detailed and specific.

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment, connect with me on Twitter or Google+.