A little over two years ago, I took on a larger role at a Minneapolis-based online marketing agency. Working with a small team of entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers, we united around the shared goal to grow the business while building our reputation as an ethical, result-oriented partner for our clients.
My role in this initiative was to improve the delivery of our search marketing services and develop an inbound marketing strategy to attract new clients through our primary domain at SnapAgency.com. We all agreed that growing our business in this way would be the best demonstration of our ability to do the same for our clients.
Everyone likes stats, so I’ll start there. Since we set out on this path two years ago, monthly site pageviews have increased from 1,100 to over 10,000. Monthly impressions in Google SERPs have increased from 11,000 to 180,000 and clicks have followed suit, going from 165 to 2,600. Leads, the lifeblood of any company, went from 8 or 9 to now over 90 credited to the website each month.
Depending on your own web analytics, these numbers may impress you or not even move your heart rate one blip. But regardless of where you stand relative to these data, I think we can all agree that we want our web presence to grow. And with it, our business.
How We Got There
Going into 2013, Snap’s web presence was rather lackluster. There were some decently-performing landing pages and a few good backlinks that produced just a couple qualified leads per month. It wasn’t for lack of effort though! Snap’s copywriters were in the habit of posting six to eight relevant blog articles per month and the community managers dutifully shared them across all social channels.
Despite these efforts, the site struggled to earn organic rankings, traffic and conversions. What was missing? A content strategy. I’ll borrow from Kristina Halvorson’s definition here: There was no plan for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content. Yes, content was being written and marketed, but there was no framework in place guiding this execution to a successful result.
Developing a Content Strategy
Early in 2013, I set in motion a plan to improve the quality and effectiveness of Snap’s online presence. My team and I researched the top content producers in our industry to understand what engaged their audiences and which content resulted in favorable search rankings. We defined our ideal client’s journey to hiring an online marketing agency and sought to align our content with their expectations.
The website needed to be reorganized to accommodate the new strategy and a facelift was long overdue. Within the rebuild, we conducted a technical overhaul of our site-wide and on-page optimization. We targeted our services and landing pages to terms that were more relevant to potential client searches. User experience was improved to make navigation, content consumption and sharing easier for site visitors and to put more of our company culture on display.
Our new content strategy required greater depth of site resources, higher-quality supporting media and more aggressive promotion. This required us to spend more time creating fewer assets. As publishing frequency went down and content creation became more intentional, there was a noticeable increase in quality and engagement.
Creating Better, Targeted Content
Guides are undeniably popular in the online marketing industry. Moz.com’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is third most-linked-to page on their site with over 2,000 referring domains.
We learned that by organizing our content topically around a hub, or an extensively informational resource, we would have no problem populating our content calendar with great ideas. Furthermore, this model created an organized internal linking structure between hubs and supporting content that produced more linkable and sharable assets.
A couple of our first content hubs were related to SEO and web design for ecommerce companies. These new resources earned hundreds of new keyword rankings, increasing monthly impressions and clicks for ecommerce-related searches by over 200% each, and not just for the hubs themselves. Like how a rising tide lifts all ships, monthly pageviews and page value for our ecommerce service pages jumped by 210% and 58%, respectively.
The benefits of this content strategy haven’t been just limited to organic search. More marketable content earns more social shares and some cool shout-outs from industry thought leaders.
But we didn’t sit and wait for this exposure, we sought it out. By sourcing content and mentioning others, we created outreach opportunities that later led to social shares and backlinks.
Proactively Earning Links and Shares
Focusing the majority of our social media marketing on Twitter, we aggressively followed and engaged with others sharing similar content. We took full advantage of tools like Buffer to keep our output of quality content consistent. Data from Sprout Social and Twitter Analytics helped us craft better tweets and post at the right times to earn more engagement. As a result, our Twitter following grew from 1,000 dedicated few to over 13,000 in the past year alone.
Social exposure can be short-lived, but the backlinks earned from content promotion provide continued value long after content stops being shared. Being louder on Twitter, coupled with better ranking content, got us links from some of our favorite websites. To name a few:
Our backlink profile has grown in quantity and quality with 1,769 new followed backlinks in the past 23 months. Improvement in our authority metrics attest to the quality of these links. In the same time period, our Domain Authority increased from 31 to 36 and our mozRank increased from 3.69 to 4.65.
What About What Really Matters? Leads…
Better content, rankings, social shares, backlinks and more traffic feels great but they aren’t the end goal. Rather, they are strategic objectives that make generating more business from our online presence possible. In 2014, SnapAgency.com contributed 50% of all sales leads and 20% of revenue to the company. For an agency that saw year-over-year growth of 75%, having a website that converts has been well worth the investment in content strategy.
Each piece of content produced is a lesson learned as to how we can improve on the next one. Every uncovered keyword, social share, and backlink earned inches us closer to exciting new clients to compliment our already awesome portfolio. Don’t skimp on research, budget for the time investment and start hustling because content strategy works.