I feel comfortable putting money on the fact that you have heard someone use the the term “create better content” recently. It’s become a cliché in the digital marketing community and is often considered a definitive solution to improving your website. Just, “create better content.” It’s simple, right?
While I agree that high quality content aimed at educating your audience is essential, telling you to create “better” content probably leaves you with more questions than answers. And likely, no one has clearly defined what “better” actually means in relation to your content or any actionable steps that you can take to improve it. Which is why I’m going to try to help!
Imagine that content creation is a science experiment, and you’re the mad scientist trying to make sense of it all.
In a cause and effect experiment, you have a dependent variable that is manipulated by adding or applying other variables and making correlations about their effect. If your content is the dependent variable in this experiment, then you’ll want to identify what other variables you will need to know and adjust to make it “better.” Some of these variables may include:
- Content topic
- Content title
- Content length and depth
- Content format
- Backlinks to content
- Freshness of content
When we think “better” content we tend to think of content that is of higher quality than a competitor or your existing content or has improved performance in some way. Today we’ll explore some actionable ways you can make your content “better” through competitor research, site analysis and link research. It all starts with asking the right questions!
How can you create better content than your competitors?
Being the one to offer the best answers to prospects’ questions can be very rewarding for your business. You want potential customers to land on your page first, but in order to do that you’ll have to be aware of what other content and resources are out there for consumers. It doesn’t take any fancy tools to do competitive research like this at a basic level.
First choose a topic in your industry and start doing some general search queries regarding your topic.
For example, maybe I want to look into what’s being written about “H1 Tags” as that’s something that is related to our industry that we already offer some content about. If I was looking for ways to improve our existing content, I might ask “what are others doing who are already ranking well for search queries about H1 Tags? What do they have that I don’t?” Also I would want to see what consumers are actually searching for in regard to H1 tags, as illustrated in the image below in Google suggested results based on real searches a high volume of people make.
Second, put together a rough spreadsheet to track information about what your competitors or publications that are writing about your industry are doing.
Remember, when it comes to content, you’re not just competing with your direct business competitors. You’re competing with every other site that ranks for the keywords you’d like to rank for.
Recording information about what content is already out there will help you to gain more insight into the competitive landscape that your content will be entering into, or already exists in. Whatever you create should size up to what’s already performing well. If you don’t think that you can size up against what’s already out there, maybe the barrier for entry is too high for that keyword and you should move on to another topic.
Need a template to compile all of this crazy competitor information? Here is one for you to use!
Competitor Information to Record
- Content Topic
- Content Title
- Content URL
- Content length
- Content format, such as…
- Best of list
- Blog article
- White paper
- Case study
- Free guide
- Interactive quiz
- Social metrics (if available)
- Engagement metrics, such as number of comments (if available)
- Number of links pointing to the page
From this analysis, you may be able to draw conclusions to take actionable steps towards “better content” for the specified topic. For example, if I was looking at competitive data for the search query below, “H1 tags SEO,” then I can see from the top results that I will likely want to create content that is at least 500 words long. Also, as one of the top results is outdated, there is potential to create a fresher piece of content that would serve a searcher’s intent and be more timely or evergreen. These inferences will save you time, and really fine tune your content planning and creation.
You can also use tools to supplement your research findings, or determine which keywords might be best to do competitor analysis for based on search volume. There are tons of research tools available out there, but some tools we use at Vertical Measures include:
How can you improve the conversion rate of your content?
This is a fantastic question to keep in mind while creating or improving your content. While creating new content is important, going back and making sure the content you’ve already created is pulling its weight can lead to wins for you as well. Conversions can mean direct sales that you attribute to your content, goal completions such as newsletter signups, or downloading a free guide. One way you can gain some visibility into whether there is opportunity to improve pages is through looking at the behavior flow of visitors on your site.
To look into this you’ll need Google Analytics or marketing automation tools, and some time to dive in to draw actionable conclusions!
Google Analytics Behavior Flow Report
This report in Google Analytics tends to scare people away, but it’s a lot simpler than it looks so don’t panic. The report tracks the path of visitors on your site from the moment they enter to the moment they leave. This gives you tons of insight about where and how people are engaging with your sites content. It can also be fantastic for figuring out which pages may need improvement.
In the report you can highlight specific paths where your visitors entered, and what they did thereafter. Look for trends such as…
- Common paths that your visitors take through your site. You will want to evaluate whether this is the path you’d like them to take. If not, something may be missing between one page to the next that could help them along their path to completing a conversion or goal.
- Common exit pages or “problem” pages. If you find a page where the drop-off rate seems abnormally high, you may want to investigate what’s going on. There may be technical issues with the page, or your content could use some sprucing.
If you can’t make sense of why users are exiting the page at such an abnormal rate then it may be worth looking at the page and asking some questions:
- Is the headline or title misleading?
- Is the page user friendly (does it load properly, are there any broken images or links?)
- Is the content on that page too thin, not providing real value to the user?
- Does it provide a good CTA to continue on to related content?
- If the content is gated are there details provided about what is on the other side of that gate?
Through this analysis you should be able to determine what may be wrong on the page, and then make improvements to test your theory. Improve the page by adding a CTA, fix a misleading title, spruce on page content or change around your layout to include more information above the fold. Do whatever you see fit for the page, and then check back in Google Analytics or your marketing automation tool later on to see if it made a difference.
How can you make your site’s content more link-worthy?
We all know that a site needs links to perform well in search engines, and creating link-worthy content is the number one way to get them. We suggest looking at content ideation with links in mind. It’s fairly easy to determine what types of content are performing well for links using a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic.
Ahrefs – Content Explorer
This platform allows you to perform search queries for keywords and then provides insight into what content is performing well. The filters provided allow you to look at different factors such as relevancy and publish date, but most importantly it allows you to filter by referring domains.
To be effective in finding the best content topics and seeing what your content is up against:
- Choose a keyword you’d like to focus your research on and enter it into the content explorer.
- Filter by referring domain.
- Export into excel.
- Analyze similarities between content with the highest number of linking domains.
By comparing the top linked-to pages, you can get an idea of what content types perform best for links for that specific keyword. You’ll want to align your content with these similarities, but also keep in mind that you’ll need to add unique value within the content you create.
You can also explore what some of the best linked pages on your own site are. This could help you figure out what is already performing well so you can create more of that specific content type or content on that topic. For example, some our most linked pages on Vertical Measures can be found below.
From this we might conclude that creating templates and infographics may be beneficial to the Vertical Measures site as those content formats are performing well. We may also want to look at the services pages that are earning links to see if we can figure out what those pages offer that some of our other service pages don’t.
Research is key in creating better content
“Better” is a relative term. There are so many variables that go into making something “better” that it’s easy to get discouraged along your content creation journey. Draw conclusions from observations that you find through competitor research, site analysis, and link analysis. While there is no definitive answer to “what will make it better?” you can often find insights that will help you improve your content piece by piece over time.