By now, you’ve heard the adage about content marketing: Just keep publishing frequently and your website traffic will eventually take off. The short and snarky answer to the question of how long before my content marketing shows results is, ‘it depends.’
The reason it depends is because each site is different and each niche is different. That being said, there is a standard baseline of time that it takes to see content marketing results, which I’ll explore further in this article. But first, let’s hear what the experts have to say.
How Long Does Content Marketing Take to Work?
I used the above header as a research term in Google as I put this post together. Here are what others are saying about how long content marketing takes to work:
CopyBlogger.com – “And, whether you know it or not, you’re playing the long game with content.” Beth Hayden
ArtilleryMarketing.com – “So if a company has awakened and is now smelling the inbound coffee, how quickly will they see results? Not right away. In fact, it could be anywhere from 6-9 months. Not every company is going to see results within that time frame. There will be some companies that see results before or after those 6-9 months.” – Douglas Burdett
ContentMarketingInstitute.com – “In my latest book, Content Inc., we found that it took an average of 15 to 17 months of consistent content creation and distribution to reach monetization (or results).” – Joe Pulizzi
Forbes.com – “When you’re planning a content marketing initiative, take the long view. Any solid initiative needs at least six months to yield impact. The day-to-day, however, is important as well. Evaluate and iterate constantly.” – John Hall
Lean-Labs.com – “6-8 months: You should see positive movement compounding each month.” – Ryan Scott
Why isn’t my content marketing working?
There are a number of things that might be impeding your content marketing efforts. These are the most common issues that can negatively impact your content marketing.
- Bad SEO
- Infrequency of Publication
- Poor Quality of your Content
- Lack of Relevancy of your Topics and Content
- Absence of Promotion and Content Amplification
Content marketing and search engine optimization work hand in hand. If you have issues with your SEO, you can create all the content you want, but no one will ever find it.
Take some time and fix your SEO problems before you start down a content marketing path. If you’ve already created content and haven’t seen the results you anticipated, it might be worth taking a step back and fixing specific issues. But, where should you focus your time within SEO? The list below is set in priority order. Review each issue to make sure you’re following best practices.Fix these SEO issues before publishing #content: Duplicate content, meta tags, toxic links, & page load speeds. Click To Tweet
Fix These SEO Issues
1. Duplicate content
- Onsite – Almost every site we review has some duplicate content. Often times its caused by the content management system (CMS). For example, WordPress creates duplicate content when you use tags and categories. This is an easy fix. Duplicate content can also come from content snippets on every page within the header or footer. Businesses that have multiple locations often concatenate content that is exactly the same, except for substituting the city name.
- Offsite – This happens with Ecommerce sites. The product descriptions are duplicated across all the distributors and retailers. Consider creating a unique version of the descriptions for your site.
2. Meta tags
- Titles – This should support your URL and be written to attract a searcher.
- Descriptions – This is the text a searcher will see on a ranking page. If you don’t write one, the search engine will pick some content on the page. Use this to draw the user into the listing and encourage a click. You’ve already done the heavy lifting by getting on a ranking page, now use the description to entice a searcher to click on your listing.
- Images – Name your image to support your keywords or content on the page. Use Alt Tags and Titles to further let the search engines know what the image is about. The content adjacent to your images should be relevant.
3. Toxic backlink profiles
- Exact match anchor text – The Google Penguin update focuses on this. Make sure your profile isn’t full of exact match anchor text. If it is, reclaim those links by using your brand name or URL as the anchor text.
- Toxic sites – If the site doesn’t have decent domain authority, or if the content isn’t relevant, you don’t need the link. Prune it. That is, ask the webmaster to remove the link. If you’re unsuccessful with the removal request, add it to your disavow list.
4. Page Speed
- Web page load speeds became a ranking factor in April of 2015. Review your page load speed and make improvements as necessary. (Google PageSpeed Insights)
Content Publishing Frequency
How often are you publishing content currently?
Frequency will certainly impact your content marketing results. At Vertical Measures, we publish content multiple times a week, in a variety of formats and on a variety of channels. Although, most of our content is published on our own site, we publish on social media channels, on LinkedIn, SlideShare and other high traffic websites. We also create off-site articles on a number of sites each month. While you might not have the resources to do the same, make sure you are publishing on a consistent and frequent basis.
Too many times, we see businesses starting down the path of content marketing and they eventually slow down and stop. Content Marketing is not a campaign, it’s a culture.
Remember: what gets rewarded, gets repeated. We have a system where we pay a bonus to our staff for creating content. The amount is more of an honorarium, but it’s enough to have our staff write almost all the content that is published on our site. You might consider setting up a system that rewards your staff for doing the same.
We also have a “Thought Leadership Squad.” The goal of the team is to find opportunities for us to create content on other channels. The channels could be other websites, webinars and even speaking at conferences where we can extend our audience’s reach.
Your content publishing frequency will depend on your business goals as they relate to your content marketing strategy, your competitive environment, and your current marketing resources and budget. More is generally better, but keep in mind, you don’t want to compromise quality for quantity.What gets rewarded, gets repeated. Incentivize your team to contribute to your #contentmarketing. Click To Tweet
How often should we publish content on our site in the future?
- HubSpot notes that companies that boost blogging by more than 20 times per month have (on average) a 45% growth in traffic over those companies that only blog 11 to 20 times per month.
- LinkedIn – 38% of marketers publish content weekly or more often.
- HubSpot – Companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don’t blog at all.
Do you have good quality content?
Make sure you are creating content for people, not just for search engines. Google has a number of ‘categories’ of quality content that people are searching for: vital, authoritative, useful, and relevant. To learn more about what Google considers high quality content, check out: Characteristics of High Quality Pages.Create #content for people, not just for search engines. Click To Tweet
- Vital – Is the information vital to your audience?
- Authoritative – Is the content authoritative? Do you have a unique point of view that sets you apart from your competition?
- Useful – Is your content useful to your audience? Are you answering questions, solving problems and providing information about your products and services?
- Relevant – Is your content relevant and timely? Don’t be that website that hasn’t published content for months on end. See more on relevancy below.
- Value Added – Content that makes users think, laugh, argue or engages them adds value to their interaction with your site.
Convince and Convert – “But data is telling me that while content marketers know their content needs to stand out from the noise, 32% of us are creating pompous content that focuses on our businesses instead of being customer-centric. #fail” – Nathan Ellering
In order for your content to resonate with your audience, it must be relevant. Write content around what your potential customers are searching for and you will get traffic boosts. Use content ideation tools indexed against search engine traffic and competitive difficulty (using the Google Keyword Planner) in order to decide what your content topic is and what headlines to use. Your headline should resonate with both your audience ‘and’ the search engines.
Content Ideation Tools and References
- Vertical Measures – A webinar on how to discover hundreds of powerful low cost content ideas for your business.
- Answer The Public – Ask the Seeker. Enter your keyword and he’ll suggest content ideas in seconds.
- Quora – The best answer to any question.
- KeywordTool.io – Find out what your audience is looking for.
Content Promotion and Amplification
A common misconception that many digital marketers have is that all they have to do is publish content and their traffic will take off. Publishing great content is only one half of the equation. You need to amplify that content with promotion to actually reach your existing audiences and find new ones. Realize that content marketing is about content and ‘marketing.’ Don’t forget the second half.
How can I promote my content more effectively?
If you are creating great content, realize that millions of others are too. No matter how great your content is, you will need to promote it. There are a number of ways to do this. Based on your content strategy, you’ll know which channels and formats will be the most effective.
- Use your blog to support strong dominant pieces of content.
- Drive traffic to your content using your weekly or monthly email newsletter.
- Tweet about your new content. Don’t just tweet about it once. Make sure you have consistent and frequent tweets about your content. Use a tool like HootSuite to schedule a number of tweets supporting your content.
- Create content for Facebook. Targeted ads on Facebook are very effective.
At Vertical Measures, we also distribute our content. We think there is enough of a difference between promotion and distribution to warrant a separate distinction. Think about it this way:
Promotion – Bringing an audience to your content
Distribution – Bringing your content to an audience#Content Promotion brings an audience to your content. Distribution brings your content to an audience. Click To Tweet
So in regards to bringing your content to an audience, we recommend the following:
- Alert influencers in your space to the new content. Create authentic relationships with people that have a large following on social media. If you have great content, they surely don’t mind sharing with their followers.
- Pitch bloggers and webmasters. Create a list of publishers and websites that extend your reach and broaden your audience. Pitch these publications and include links back to your hub content. Most publishers have limited resources and welcome great content for their sites. Don’t know where to start? Download Jon Morrow’s The Big Black Book of Rock-Solid Guest Blogging Targets. It will set you back $7, but the contact names and emails are well worth it and it will save you hours of time researching who to contact.
- Publish content on high traffic websites. Frequently write content and publish on LinkedIn and other high traffic sites. These sites give you a channel to publish on. Take advantage of it.
- Publish on SlideShare.net – If your business focus is B2B, use SlideShare as a distribution platform for your content. Publish any/all slide decks you create that are not proprietary. There are currently 70 million Slide Share users.
By promoting and distributing your content, you are:
Extending your reach – For most of us, the last place a user normally finds our content is on our own website. Ride the coattails of other high traffic sites to get the word out about your content.
Engaging a new audience – Each of us has a pretty narrow and limited audience, and by engaging an audience that isn’t our own, we will bring in new readers and potential customers.
Motivating influencers – By definition, influencers are constantly sharing content. Give them something new and fresh to share and thus increase engagement for your content.
Let’s Wrap It Up
So, how long before your content marketing shows results? It still depends on if you’re covering all the areas above – publishing frequently, ensuring you are following proper SEO practices, creating quality content, and amplifying it effectively.
But overall, numerous studies show that you need to be doing these things and publishing content consistently for at least 6 months before you see any traction at all. While on one level I agree with the timeline for results, I also know from lessons learned that you can accelerate this process.
If you’re not seeing the results you need after 6 months, try the steps listed above or bring in a 3rd party to help you identify any potential problems.