Takeaways from some research on content audits. Looking at your website and your competition’s content to assess what articles you need to be building out for your niche.
Today Content Refined turns 2.5 years old and Maddie has recently shared a BIG post about the journey!
Plus they just had a video produced to help people learn more about Content Refined…
In this post I want to share 3 lessons I have learned from my position (idea identification, initial system architecture and assembling/stewarding the team).
In the summer of 2016 Maddie joined my team with the mandate of systematizing the content creation process for my portfolio of sites. She killed it!
From that effort we decided to launch Content Refined as a content marketing company.
I documented that launch when I announced it in this post – https://websiteincome.com/content-marketing-strategy-launch-business/
It grew incredibly well, achieving 10% week over week growth for the first few months.
There have certainly been a fair number of challenges/opportunities and in this post I hope to share from my perspective what the 3 most significant lessons were.
Lesson 1: Systems Can’t Replace People!
For everyone that reads this site they know I LOVE systems. Systematized business processes and systematic solutions to problems are core values for the business.
However, despite the engineers desire in me to build a system that doesn’t require great people to run it never happens. Great systems allow great people to execute better.
As I significantly shifted my focus in 2017 to adbank my core businesses needed to be managed and any business where there was a manager responsible for running the business did well. However any business that was solely dependent on a system went off the rails.
Maddie grew the business, Laura managed it while Maddie was on mat leave and I have had limited ongoing involvement. No system could have been built to adapt to the changed and achieved what the team has achieved!
Lesson 2: Churn is a Moral Sapingl!
Content Refined has been a great business with significant initial success and very solid longer term performance. But as with any recurring revenue business that is non-essential, churn is the enemy!
Trying to keep growth moving while fighting churn is a never ending battle and can be very unmotivating.
Sometimes even solid months feel like this…
For anyone who ever wants to dig more into recurring revenue business models this is the best article on any subject ever and it focuses on metrics – https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/
Lesson 3: Focus on your Strengths in a Congruent way!
Congruent has been my favourite business word for awhile. Ensuring the people, value proposition and systems are all aligned congruently is critically important.
Building that congruence around the set of strengths that makes you unique and focusing on it has been where our biggest successes have come from and also, when we drifted, where our biggest failures occurred.
For Content Refined, the effort around data analysis (to determine what tools/metrics give our content the best predictive ability to perform well in Google) has been very rewarding. Trying to broaden and sell other services where our set of strengths didn’t align didn’t get off the ground in a significant way (for example, an email marketing service to existing clients).
Being accountable for results and not just words, as a content marketing company that uses data (and the thousands of articles we’ve already published) to continually refine what is working now, is what has Content Refined clients loving the service.
I hope my view on the 3 key lessons while stewarding the growth of Content Refined has been useful.
If you have any content marketing needs be sure to book a free call with Maddie or Laura… they often share some pretty incredible and specific to your site insights on those calls! You can book here if there is availability.
It’s good to have a few trusted keyword research tools under your belt. Our teams at Content Refined are currently using two in conjunction: SECockpit by SwissMadeMarketing, and Ahrefs. We started using Ahrefs a while ago when SECockpit stopped returning results in certain fields and niches (i.e. we stopped getting results for cbd oil related keywords). Ahrefs has a ton of detail in their results, and I really like the way that they suggest alternatives.
So here are the basic steps for using Ahrefs to determine whether a keyword is competitive. For our purposes, we are looking for a few key metrics:
- monthly search volume over 500
- keyword density under 30
- most of the other top competitors have a low domain authority
These are the tried and true metrics that Content Refined usually sticks to (unless there’s a unique site that needs something slightly different). We’ve talked about this before in an article about SECockpit. For that article the monthly search volume filter was set to ‘over 1000’. We’ve since found that over 500 is a valuable metric with more opportunities for a lot of sites.
For Ahrefs Keyword Research, follow these steps in this order:
- Go to ‘Keywords Explorer’ from the headings.
- Search for the keyword. In this example, ‘ketamine infusion’.
- Scroll down to ‘also rank for’ and click on the ‘view all #’.
- Click on KD and put ’30’ in the “To” section. Click ‘Apply’.
- Click on Volume and put ‘500’ in the “From” section. Click ‘Apply’.
- Now you’ll have a list of keywords with good metrics.
- Click on one that looks good, in this example, ‘ketamine infusion therapy’.
- In the new page, scroll all the way down to the ‘SERP Overview’ section. There you’ll be able to see the Domain Rating (“DR”) of the top competitors’ websites. Make sure that the majority of these are under about 35. In the example ‘ketamine infusion therapy’, most of those DRs are low, which is good!
- Determine whether this is a good keyword for your needs, and copy the details as needed into your keyword research plan.
- Begin search again with a new keyword, as much as needed, to complete your keyword research.
I love finding new strategies and tricks for finding the best competitive keywords in any niche. For Content Refined we also go back once or twice a year and run some data analysis to see which tools are working the best. We did that last year around this time, and are currently in the process of running a new set of data analysis (I’ll be sure to share the findings for you guys).
Keep me updated about what tools and strategies you guys are currently using in the comments below!
I am excited to share a post like this… it has been awhile since I shared a detailed data driven tip on a new strategy that drives IMPRESSIVE results!
The team at ContentRefined has been doing some very impressive work lately performing what we are calling a Pareto^2 Content Upgrade and making the articles pop in terms of rankings and traffic.
This strategy is all about taking what is already working (your 20% of articles driving 80% of your sites traffic) and applying advanced tools/strategy at the right leverage points to make them perform even better!
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Here is the procedure ContentRefined uses to further apply this principle with content marketing and shared for you to use on your sites! As always if you want to do it yourself we show you the results and the exact steps… however, if you want to have the team at ContentRefined upgrade some of your most important articles then contact them here.
Book a call with Laura here and receive a free consultation/report to identify which of your pages are the right pages to apply the Pareto Upgrade to!
Over the past couple of years, myself and my teammates at Content Refined (the content marketing business that Madeleine Taylor and I co-founded) have really nailed down how to write killer content and optimize it for ranking. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember when we analyzed some of our content’s data to find the best tools and techniques. There were a few articles about this—I’ll link at the end of the article.
Well, we actually had those results reviewed and confirmed by a real statistician with a Master of Science in Statistics from Texas A&M (so he, unlike me, actually has the piece of paper on the wall that says he knows how to analyze data).
Our experience in content creation combined with the statistician’s findings has really solidified our understanding of how to achieve awesome, rankable articles.
As always, I want to share this plethora of knowledge with you guys, so that you can implement some of this stuff into your own websites. Also as always, I hope you guys like graphs!
The Four Step Process
Refining systems and processes has absolutely been key to continued success with our content (hence the name, Content Refined). If you make a good systematic cycle, and stick to it regularly and efficiently, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
So here are the four steps for creating articles that work for us:
1. Keyword Research
The foundation of our articles is a strong primary keyword that is highly probable of ranking. We find the right keyword, and create an article title around it.
Once the keywords and article titles are good to go, they’re sent out to some excellent writers.
Our editors are the final step before publication. A thorough quality check includes checking for plagiarism, editing the writing carefully, and running each article through a content gap analysis and keyword optimization tool.
Our publishers follow a standard protocol for nicely formatting articles with stock photography and ensuring search engine optimization.
Standards for Each Step
Now, let’s break down these steps into a set of standards to abide by.
Keyword Research Standards
There are a lot of keyword research tools and methods out there.
With our data review (checking the content we’ve created against their real results), we have verified three essential components of each chosen keyword; (1) monthly search volume, (2) competition score, and (3) domain authority of competitors. So, when performing keyword research, we target the following measurements:
- A monthly search volume of over 500.
- A competition score under 30%.
- The majority of the top 10 competing websites with that keyword have a domain authority score under 30.
But remember, these measurements are flexible according to your content needs (eg. international location, site traffic, niche, etc.).
We have also verified that the most accurate keyword research tools currently available are SECockpit by SwissMadeMarketing, Ahrefs.com, and KWFinder by Mangools. These are the three tools we use to perform our keyword research.
It’s super important to maintain a strong team of excellent writers. We hire only native English writers (freelancers) who can pass a series of grammar and content creation tests. Plus, our relationships with writers are dependent on great communication and clarity of requirements.
We also frequently review and renew our writing team. Our general rule of thumb is to keep cutting out the bottom 10% (the writers who aren’t consistently awesome or are starting to slack off) and replacing them with new great writers.
Another thing to keep in mind is writing a minimum of 1000 words per article. It’s generally recommended for search engine ranking. Depending on your niche, you might need more than that. The keyword research should help you figure out how long your content needs to be.
An Editor really has to be a master of proofreading.
For us, we make sure that first, they run each article through a program that checks for plagiarism, ensuring that each article is truly original content. The tool we’re currently using for this process is CopyScape.
Then, they carefully go through each article, editing for spelling, grammar, flow, and readability.
Lastly, they run each article through a keyword optimization program to naturally weave in more secondary keywords wherever they can. This greatly helps in filling ‘content gaps’ that the writer may have missed. The tools we’re currently using for this process are CognitiveSEO and MarketMuse. Both tools have proven to increase the probability of ranking in search engines.
*note: In the MarketMuse vs. SERPFox graph: Negative MarketMuse Score was used instead of MarketMuse Score because of the ascending nature of MarketMuse Score (higher is better) vs. the descending mature of SERPFox Ranking (lower is better).
Publishing requirements tend to be subjective.
Everyone has their own processes for formatting and optimizing an article before publishing. However, we’ve set out a set of standards that we follow, that have proven to increase the probability of ranking.
- Short URL slugs that include the keyword.
- H2 and H3 tags for headings and subheadings.
- Stock photography related to the subject matter.
- Meta description for the article.
- A few inbound and outbound links to relevant pages.
- Category tags.
- If it’s an Amazon Affiliate website, we embed the affiliate tag into all product links.
Uploading a bunch of articles at least once per month and scheduling them out is the most efficient way we’ve found to stay on schedule and make sure that good content is always there.
If you hire a freelancer to do this publishing, I definitely recommend doing a quick quality check before hitting the actual ‘publish’ button.
And Then Start Again!
Across all my sites, this is the system we use. These are the core processes used at Content Refined, and we’ve had continued success in getting content to rank and organic traffic to grow and grow. Check out these results from one site that Content Refined does all the content creation for (whose name we can’t share for privacy purposes). They started with no organic traffic, and with these processes, plus a great niche, they’ve been able to scale super fast.
It’s been amazing to watch Content Refined grow, expand teams, and nail down these processes. I do encourage you to check them out and jump on a call with Laura (our acting Business Manager while Madeleine is on maternity leave) to discuss content needs if that’s something you’re looking for.
Let me know what you think and if there’s anything that works really well for you!
Links to our previous data collection articles:
“Rank in Google with Certainty — 2 Metrics Reveal That You Will Definitely Rank Well in Google!” https://websiteincome.com/rank-content-in-google-with-certainty/
“Rank in Google with Certainty? — Market Muse Review Updated Data Analysis” https://websiteincome.com/rank-in-google-with-certainty-updated/
“Definitive — Best Keyword Research Tool to Determine Keyword Competitiveness” https://websiteincome.com/best-kw-research-tool-keyword-competitiveness/
“New Ranking Data to Help Your Site Rank” https://websiteincome.com/new-ranking-data-to-help-your-site-rank/